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A Pack Of Dogs, A Fire Hydrant, And A Powerful Lobby

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Lots of takes from the blogs on the NEA letter from yesterday, which, ironically, is signed by none other than Diane Shust, the NEA lobbyist who used to work for Miller. Joe Williams of DFER who broke the news notes tongue in cheek "Whatever happened to support for multiple measures? Isn't it cruel/unfair to hold a Legislator accountable for the results of a single test?" I love it. PreaPrez, one of the most bilious people in the edusphere (at least towards me), says the NEA is just doing what it's supposed to do. Indeed, that's true. That doesn't make it right for education, though, or wise, or tolerable. Scooped by the blogosphere, The Hoff weighs in to note that until 2005 the NEA only rated lawmakers on votes, not cosponsorships, and that one of the bills on the "good" list comes from a lawmaker who has previously been "bad." Last but certainly not least, Charlie Barone's blog depicts House freshman as dogs on the NEA leash looking eagerly at the NCLB fire hydrant. Funny and mean, it's well worth clicking. (Former Miller staffer Barone noted on the HotSeat last month that Miller's own rating has been affected by his votes in the past on class size and Katrina vouchers and teacher quality.)

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Again like so many observors of the "horserace" aspect of NCLB, you seem to assume that opposition to the law hurts kids.

So again, I'd like to suggest another way of looking at it, in the hopes that people who aren't in the schools will understand why we teachers are so vehemently opposed. And please remember, most teachers once gave measured support to NCLB.

Let's just ASSUME that NCLB has produced some good for some kids. The research has shown that any possible benefits have been small. Let's just ASSUME that this time the law gets it better. There is still no reason to believe that it will greatly benefit significant numbers of kids. Realistically, the best you can get is a situation where the harm of standardized testing is counter-balanced by an increase in skills.

But think of the harm that is done to kids under NCLB. Even if the number of kids who are pushed out of school, or whose chances of getting a real education are killed, does not represent the majority, what is the effect on them? The kids who are hurt are hurt very, very badly.

Do the calculus, and I doubt that anyone would conclude that the next reincarnation of NCLB would produce the "greater good for the greater number." That couldn't happen until NCLB was renewed multiple times. But the harm that is being imposed on the children who are being harmed is awful. If you saw it firsthand, you wouldn't have the stomach for a continued effort. Again, "First, Do No Harm."

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