From this piece from CNN.com, US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has given the anti-testing crowd two more pieces of ammunition:
1. She just can't be wearing those glasses (see the picture) in 2006, and
2. She can't be serious in saying the law is "99.9% pure...there's not much needed in the way of change.
I've written about the No Child Left Behind Act several times on this blog; any long-time reader knows that I'm an enthusiastic supporter of the law. But let's be honest and say that there's plenty that could be improved about the law. I don't mean major, "let's get rid of it" changes, but I'll agree that the way schools can be labeled as "failing", for instance, is silly and downright counterproductive.
I would rather have this slightly imperfect (but nowhere close to 99.9% pure) law than to go back to where we were before it passed, though. Back then it was too easy to ignore kids who failed; they just failed, that's the way things are, we tried, not our problem any more. Kid doesn't learn English? Keep him in bilingual classes for 12 years, not our problem. Teacher not credentialed to teach the class before her? Not a problem. NCLB has shined the light on major, glaring deficiencies in our country's schools, and states are starting to react. In California, a full 50% of our state budget ($50-60 billion a year) goes to education. I've heard that the feds account for about 7% of California's education spending, or almost $4 billion; isn't it a good thing that Uncle Sam is asking for some accountability for how he spends his money? Is wanting results a bad thing?
In a meeting after school today we were handed a Newsweek article by Anna Quindlen. In it she states that testing doesn't help learning anymore than repeatedly weighing a fat person causes weight loss. Can anything more stupid be written? The point of testing isn't to teach the students, it's to see if they've been taught. Using Quindlen's pathetic example, no one should get his/her cholesterol checked because checking it doesn't lower the cholesterol level (BTW, mine's 117--beat that!).
Obviously I support testing, I support NCLB, and I support Secretary Spellings. But Spellings sure made it more difficult for me with the dumb comment quoted on CNN.
Update, 9/2/06: Here's another fan of NCLB, one with a rather interesting perspective on the law.