Sound Destruction: CT vs NCLB

Monday, August 22, 2005


The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program continues to be a hot-button issue.

The state of Connecticut filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging Presiden't Bush's "No Child Left Behind" school reform law, arguing it is illegal because it requires expensive testing and programs it doesn't pay for.

It's not just the underfunding that flaws this program, it's also the rigidity of the NCLB testing which is not productive for teachers, schools, and most importantly students. I don't know of any teachers who fully back this program. I remember last fall on my daughter's 1st grade back-to-school night, her teacher introduced changes to the standardized protocols as directed by the NCLB program. After the balance of the parents raised their hands in favor, my lone hand went up when she querried all opposed. Even though I'd only been living here for one month at the time, I didn't care how my opposition was viewed by the other parents, some of whom were giving me side glances. I was however proud to have earned a subtle nod and smile from the teacher.


Blogger Doug said...

Forgive me for saying this, but this is one more way that GWB administration imitates democrats as described by conservatives.

4:53 PM  
Blogger GABRIEL C. ZOLMAN said...

I agree with Doug. Bush is only a "Conservative" in the eyes of Christians and Warhawks. The more libertarian side of the party hate his redneck-plutocrat guts.


5:42 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Not all Christians, Gabriel. Just the ones that think Jesus came to Earth and was made flesh to prevent boys kissing, put an end to abortion and find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Chris Woods said...

Good post, Sar, and even better story. It takes guts to do what you did. Especially in front of what are likely ignorant parents who don't realize how bad NCLB is.

And Doug, your snark is amazing.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

You were right though so you need not worry eh. It is funny how many do not have a clue isn't it.
Most parents probably don't know anything about it except the title NCLB and face it that sounds cool.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Nedhead said...

NCLB must be repealed. alice is right, most people don't really understand what the legislation is and its negative impact upon our school systems. They only heed the bullet points and their love for Bush.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hey, thanks Chris. I gave up the prospect of marriage so I could be like this all day long.

10:54 AM  
Blogger tlm said...

Oh, I call bullshit here. Let the people of Connecticut piss and moan about it. Especially if the main gripe is about having to pay for the new testing (which is what I got out of the story.)

The state is getting $200M to pay for the new testing. This in addition to the extra $500M a year they now get, thanks to NCLB.

Standardized testing is the way it needs to be done. They need to deal with it. (And stop wasting federal education funding too!)

11:23 AM  
Blogger Nedhead said...

Standardized testing is not the way it needs to be done. That type of testing does not account for varities in local districts (and don't even say that it is possible to create a level playing field there, it isn't going to happen). Education must be fluid and maleable. Standardized testing is not the method which we should use to guage our childrens success. Gotta go, will pick this up later...

11:41 AM  
Blogger tlm said...

I'd be interested to hear how we gauge then. Perhaps going into the homes of students and monitoring how incompetent parents are impacting their education?

11:45 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Not having kids, I don't have a very strong opinion on this. My experience with government programs is the unions typically say that more money and less accountability is the recipe for success while other interests think that standardizing everything makes sense. As a taxpayer that particular dialogue makes me a little seasick. As a guy who pulled Ambrose Bierce out of his butt to write about, I really hope there's some flexibility in the classroom. A lot of good stuff will get left out if the curriculums become wrapped up in the testing.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

Here's an interesting read about NCLB.

One of my problems with the program is the fact it does not make proper exceptions for developmentally delayed children, like my daughter. While she is not mentally retarded in any way (thankfully), she does have global residual delays stemming from her mobility delay. As such, the NCLB program holds her to the same expectations as typical children.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

That's a good point too, Doug. Teachers will be spending so much time "teaching to the test" that the joy and creativity of teaching & learning will be lost along with the arts which there won't be any time left for.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Nedhead said...

"Just as we would not use a person’s temperature as the only measurement to determine good health, we should not use one type of assessment to determine quality instruction, student growth, and mastery of standards. A complete assessment system for mathematics needs to provide meaningful information about the strengths and weaknesses of individual students in a variety of areas such as skills and the application of skills in various contexts, concepts, problem solving, and mathematical reasoning. And a complete assessment system needs to provide this information throughout the year" - California Mathematics Council - 2004

Having the federal government create standards with broad strokes is a recipe for disaster.

I agree with the statements in this article:

tlm, find me a young, earnest teacher who thinks highly of standardized testing and NCLB. Standardized testing is the easy way out, simple, quick and clear cut. No room for interpretation.

Most of us have taken the SAT, do you think that has any bearing on how smart or capable we are? Does it accurately diagnose your ability to learn? Is it an accurate indicator of how one will do in college? The answer to all the above is no.

How do you create a standard test that covers the rich, white school, the middle class white school, the inner city school with a good mix of minorities, many of which are not strong with English? Standardized testing will crush the school that can't keep up, not because the children are dumb, not because the teachers are incompetent, but because the little latino kids can't pass the test the rich white kids pass.

This article is pretty complete in its assessment:

Sorry, I'm done.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous pia said...

Wow Doug at his snarkiest. Sar I think you did a wonderful thing. My friends spent years trying to get their school district to give their daughter tests for a problem with auditory processing. Turns out not only does she have it but she has it to the umpth degree. Now that it has been officially diagnosed by the school system, she will be given unlimited time to take tests, speech therapy, and cool gadgets so that she can hear the teachers better.

there are ways to fight the nclb, and school systems. it takes guts and much time. Unfortunately I have had three friends (seperate households) who had to do that.

the first two kids thrived in resource rooms, special tutoring etc. It then became a fight to get them out. The first girl is a junior in college; second one is doing very well at a prestigious New York high school.

You just have to keep the school system accountable for your child. It can be a full time job but it works.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Chris Woods said...

I almost wish I was still in high school so I could continue to rip apart NCLB as someone actually feeling its ridiculous effects, but I'm not, so oh well. I'll just keep voting for school board candidates who'll fight against it.

Anyway, I just wanted to let anyone who's interested know that I've started a thread at my blog merely for discussion of what Democrats should do when it comes to Iraq. Check it out here.

2:54 PM  
Blogger actonbell said...

Good for you, Sar! Glad you voiced opposition to NCLB. I'm very surprised to hear that you were the only one. I agree with most of the comments.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

Excellent insite & links, thanks Nedhead. And, CW, thanks for the heads up, I'll be by.

Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement, Pia and Actonbell (Doug is being especially snarky - how fun!).

Parenting is challenging enough to begin with, but when the government's actions run counter to your child's best interests, it is especially difficult. I was also surprised I was the only one in opposition, but then I remembered that I was now in the South. But, still.

The administration was very clever about the NCLB program. If you opposed it, then YOU would be directly responsible for your child being left behind....right?

4:36 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sar, your comment reminds me of an article in The Onion awhile back with a headline along the lines of Policy Amended to Leave Damon Wilson Behind.

5:43 PM  

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