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No Crony Left Behind--public school education

Bush as usual causing billions to be wasted on testing:  a very high profile program with a catchy name.  The No Child Left Behind program doesn’t change the social-economic ills which cause certain areas to perform well below the national average—testing reveals what we already know.  Sweden, for example rather than have educational funding dependent on property tax, does the reverse they pump more dollars per student into poor neighborhoods. 


No Crony Left Behind

Posted November 1, 2007 | 12:47 PM (EST) Huffington Post

At http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/no-crony-left-behind_b_70758.html


New Rule: In the next fifteen months, President Bush has to perform at least one act that doesn't make money for someone he knows.


Take "No Child Left Behind." At first it just looked like gentle empty bullshit, a way to neutralize the Democrats edge with voters on education issues. What did it even mean? And how could you be against it? Education. It was a perfect cause that would honor the legacy of any president...'s wife. Which made it even more perfect for pre-9/11 Bush. And who could it hurt? No one. It made Lady Bird Johnson's wild-flowers-by-the-highways project look like the fucking Marshall Plan.

Except, like all Bush ideas, there was more to it. To meet the requirements of "No Child Left Behind" America's public schools have ordered more than eleven million standardized tests in the last two years. (New York State alone ordered 1.7 million.) The cost of the tests -- and the testing industry, including test prep -- now exceeds two billion dollars a year. And 90% of the industry is controlled by five corporations. And the largest of them is McGraw-Hill. And the McGraw family just happens to go back 80 years with the Bushes.

Another beneficiary of No Child Left Behind? Neil Bush's educational software company. The one funded by the United Arab Emirates. The one Barbara Bush said the Katrina victims had to spend her donation on.

Which is, of course, all blood under the bridge. But when Bush does anything, there's always some profit motive behind it. Nothing is free but the hookers. So it wasn't surprising that he announced his post war plans were to replenish the coffers with speeches. But before that, he has to do one purely altruistic thing. Just one.

Bill Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" which airs every Friday at 11PM.

Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind has published a number of criticism of the No Child Left Behind program. 



'Gaming' the system

The system of incentives and penalties sets up a strong motivation for schools, districts, and states to manipulate test results. For example, schools have been shown to exclude minorities or other groups (to enhance apparent school performance; as many as 2 million students)[23] and have employed creative reclassification of drop-outs (to reduce unfavorable statistics).[24]

Critics argue that these and other strategies create an inflated perception of NCLB's successes, particularly in states with high minority populations.[25]

The incentives for an improvement also may cause states to lower their official standards. Missouri, for example, improved testing scores but openly admitted that they lowered the standards.[26]

[edit] Problems with standardized tests

Critics have argued that the focus on standardized testing (all students in a state take the same test under the same conditions) as the means of assessment encourages teachers to teach a narrow subset of skills that will increase test performance rather than focus on deeper understanding that can readily be transferred to similar problems.[27] For example, if the teacher knows that all of the questions on a math test are simple addition equations (e.g., 2+3=5), then the teacher might not invest any classtime on the practical applications of addition (e.g., story problems) so that there will be more time for the material which is assessed on the test. This is colloquially referred to as "teaching to the test."

Because each state can produce its own standardized tests, a state can make its statewide tests easier to increase scores.[28] A 2007 study by the U.S. Dept. of Education indicates that the observed differences in states' reported scores is largely due to differences in the stringency of their standards.[29]

Standardized tests have also been accused of cultural bias, and the practice of determining educational quality by testing students has been called into question.[30]

[edit] Violation of separation of church and state

Since the Act's inception, President Bush has allowed "faith-based" groups to serve as private tutors, receiving public money, in public schools under the act, which has angered some who campaign for separation of church and state. The US Department of Education's website says: "No Child Left Behind provides opportunities for faith-based organizations to assist in educating children."[31][32]

[edit] Incentives against low-performing students

Because the law's response if the school fails to make adequate progress is not only to provide additional help for students, but also to impose punitive measures on the school, the incentives are to set expectations lower rather than higher[33] and to increase segregation by class and race and push low-performing students out of school altogether.[34]

Under the NCLB act, schools that do not meet certain established standards are given additional funds in an attempt to boost scores. Critics argue that schools have less of an incentive to do better if they are already receiving more funds. However, schools are also given bonuses for meeting yearly requirements. Since these requirements are given each year schools are less likely to rapidly increase their scores as a slow and gradual improvement would be financially better. Another part of the NCLB act gives schools that perform well awards and special recognition that opponents argue would encourage schools already doing well to push out disadvantaged students even more.

[edit] Incentives against gifted, talented, and high performing students

Anecdotal evidence has been slowly gathering across the country regarding local school systems reallocating money in such a manner as to only fund teaching for core subjects or for remedial special education. In other words, NCLB forces school programs to ration education in such a manner as to only guarantee mandated skill levels in reading, writing, and arithmetic to all students. All other programs not essential to providing mandated skills to regular students or remedial special education students are being gutted by those districts. [35] While Federal law is silent on the requirement for funding gifted programs, the practice can violate the mandates of several states (such as Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania) to identify gifted students and provide them with a free appropriate public education[citation needed] commensurate to the actual abilities of these students.

[edit] State refusal to produce non-English assessments

Students who are learning English have an automatic three-year-long window to take assessments in their native language, after which they must generally demonstrate proficiency on an English language assessment. The local education authority may grant any individual English learner another two years' testing in his or her native language on a case-by-case basis. In practice, however, only 10 states choose to test any English language learners in their native language (almost entirely Spanish speakers).[5] The vast majority of English language learners are given English language assessments.[36]

[edit] State education budgets

Several years of weak tax revenues, particularly in sales tax and capital gains taxes, have forced most states to make deep cutbacks in many areas, including education.[citation needed] The extra funds provided to a school under NCLB's provisions may be more than offset by budget cuts at the state level, leaving them with both lower revenue and higher expenses.

[edit] Narrow curriculum

NCLB's focus on math and English language skills (and eventually science) may elevate scores on two fundamental skills while students lose the benefits of a broad education.[37]

A study conducted by the American Heart Association and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education contends that diminishing physical education in school has contributed to rising levels of childhood obesity.[38]

The Center on Public Education found that after implementation of NCLB, 71 percent of the districts surveyed had elementary schools that cut back on instructional time for a subject to make room for more reading and math — the primary focus of the law.[39]

Surveys of public school principals indicate that since the implementation of NCLB, 71% believe instructional time has increased for reading, writing, and math (subjects tested under the law), and decreased for the arts, elementary social studies, and foreign languages.[40][41]

In some places, the implementation of NCLB during a time of budget restraints has been blamed for the elimination of classes and activities which are outside of NCLB's focus area.[42] "It hurts me to give up art, but it hurts me even more to have kids who can't read," said school principal Kathy Deck in Indianapolis, Indiana.[43]

[edit] Narrow definition of research

Some school districts object to the limitation created by the "scientifically based research standard." Research based on case studies, anecdotes, personal experience, or other forms of qualitative research are generally excluded from this category. Furthermore, the inability to employ random assignment for important educational predictors such as race and socio-economic status may exclude a large amount of quasi-experimental work that could contribute to educational knowledge.[44]

[edit] Limitations on local control

Some conservative or libertarian critics have argued that NCLB sets a new standard for federalizing education and setting a precedent for further erosion of state and local control. Libertarians and some conservatives further argue that the federal government has no constitutional authority in education, which is why participation in NCLB is technically optional: States need not comply with NCLB so long as they also refuse federal funding for their schools.[45]

[edit] Facilitates military recruitment

NCLB (In section 9528) requires public secondary schools to provide military recruiters the same access to facilities as a school provides to higher education institution recruiters. Schools are also required to provide contact information for every student to the military if requested. Students or parents can opt out of having their information shared, and educational institutions receiving funding under the act are required to inform parents that they have this option.[46] [47] Currently, many school districts have a generic opt out form which, if filled out and turned in, withholds students' information from college and job recruiters as well as the military.

[edit] Some students may not learn as well

Critics of the NCLB requirement for "one high, challenging standard" claim that some students are simply unable to perform at the level for their age, no matter how good the teacher is.[48] While statewide standards reduce the educational inequality between privileged and underprivileged districts in a state, they still impose a "one size fits all" standard on individual students. Particularly in states with high standards, schools can be punished for not being able to dramatically raise the achievement of a student who has below-average capabilities.

[edit] NCLB funding

Several provisions of NCLB, such as a push for quality teachers and more professional development, place additional demands on local districts and state education agencies. Some of these extra expenses are not fully reimbursed by NCLB monies.

Many early supporters of NCLB criticize its implementation because it is not adequately funded by either the federal government or the states. Ted Kennedy, the legislation's initial sponsor, has stated: "The tragedy is that these long overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not."[49]

Organizations have particularly criticized the unwillingness of the federal government to fully fund the act. Noting that appropriations bills always originate in the House of Representatives, it is true that neither the Senate nor the White House has even requested federal funding up to the authorized levels for several of the act’s main provisions. For example President Bush requested only $13.3 of a possible $22.75 billion in 2006.[50] President Bush's 2008 budget allots $61 billion for the Education Department, cutting funding by $1.3 billion from last year. 44 out of 50 states would receive reductions in federal funding if the budget passes as is. [51]

Republicans in Congress have viewed these authorized levels as spending caps, not spending promises, and have responded to criticisms by claiming that President Bill Clinton never requested the full amount of funding authorized under the previous ESEA law.[52] Some opponents argue that these funding shortfalls mean that schools faced with the system of escalating penalties for failing to meet testing targets are denied the resources necessary to remedy problems detected by testing.

Federal funding is particularly important because declining tax revenues at the state level have led many governors and legislatures to make deep cuts in state education budgets. While some new money flows to local districts as a result of NCLB, the amount falls far short of the cuts being made at the state level.

Bush is a work of ART, spelled NEOCONSERVATISM


The program is so bad as to have produced a broad-based coalition for reform and other efforts:


Proposals for reform

The Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind [6] is a proposal by more than 135 national civil rights, education, disability advocacy, civic, labor and religious groups that have signed on to a statement calling for major changes to the federal education law. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) initiated and chaired the meetings that produced the statement, originally released in October 2004. The statement's central message is that "the law's emphasis needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement." The number of organizations signing the statement has nearly quadrupled since it was launched in late 2004 and continues to grow. The goal is to influence Congress, and the broader public, as the law's scheduled reauthorization approaches.

Education critic Alfie Kohn argues that the NCLB law is "unredeemable" and should be scrapped. He is quoted saying "[I]ts main effect has been to sentence poor children to an endless regimen of test-preparation drills".[53]

In February 2007, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, Co-Chairs of the Aspen Commission on No Child Left Behind, announced the release of the Commission's final recommendations for the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.[54] The Commission is an independent, bipartisan effort to improve NCLB and ensure it is a more useful force in closing the achievement gap that separates disadvantaged children and their peers. After a year of hearings, analysis and research, the Commission uncovered the successes of NCLB, as well as provisions which need to be changed or significantly modified.

The Commission's recommendations are summarized as follows:

  • Effective Teachers for All Students, Effective Principals for All Communities
  • Accelerating Progress and Closing Achievement Gaps Through Improved Accountability
  • Moving Beyond the Status Quo to Effective School Improvement and Student Options
  • Fair and Accurate Assessments of Student Progress
  • High Standards for Every Student in Every State
  • Ensuring High Schools Prepare Students for College and the Workplace
  • Driving Progress Through Reliable, Accurate Data

The Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA), a working group of signers of the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB has offered an alternative proposal [7]. It proposes to shift NCLB from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to supporting state and communitiesand holding them accountable as they make systemic changes that improve student learning.

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People get the politicians they deserve, for in office the average person would behave like them.

Politican is another dirty word!