Sunday, June 10, 2007

Good, Or Bad, Regarding NCLB

To many people, the No Child Left Behind Act is a not-too-veiled attempt to federalize control over education. But how can that be, when each state is allowed to choose its own tests and set its own standards?

And despite test score increases, how much federal control is there when what's passing in one state is failing in another?

7 comments:

Lillian said...

All I can say is - Shame On Mississippi!!!

There are federal guidelines for NCLB, and federal standards that all states align their standards to.

This shows problems with state and district benchmarks...not the federal law. Remember the old concept of grading on the curve??? Well, there you have it!!

This is exactly the reason the law gives those states that have signed on to NCLB, time to get it together - 2014. Until five years ago there were no federal guidelines, and some states were widely known for their inadequately educated populations.

Are we really surprised that states like Mississippi are just beginning in the last five years to 'catch up' with standards, or that their definition for proficiency is far below 'the national curve'?

Darren said...

Lillian, I don't think you're correct. There are no federal standards to which states much align.

Lillian said...

Darren,
Here is the latest information re Mississippi from the NCLB website, and it appears that the state is narrowing the achievment gap between ethnic groups, and 'poor & not poor' populations.
http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/importance/difference/mississippi.pdf

Of course, it will take some time for Mississippi to catch up with the rest of the country.
Should we move down there and help 'em out?

carol said...

Somehow Montana escaped a much of the scrutiny this time..perhaps it's not our turn for the NAEP? I'm not sure how that works.

But I already know that our state low-balled its standards. I ran for office on that fact and got in a lot of interesting conversations.

No one really wants to talk about it though. Every Montanan knows our children are all above average!

Darren said...

Carol, that's because you're so close to Lake Wobegon!

allen said...

To many people, the No Child Left Behind Act is a not-too-veiled attempt to federalize control over education.

To many people the means of production should be in the hands of the proletariat all evidence of the foolishness of that point of view notwithstanding.

The federalization of public education started the day the first federal dollar was spent by a school district.

Since the federal government is explicitly prevented from having a roll in the governance of public education the only way around that pesky Tenth Amendment - if the Constitution doesn't say you can, you can't - is to bait a hook with a big, juicy pile of federal money. The only thing that need be done to prevent the federalization of public education is to refuse to take the money. But it doesn't take much reflection to see why that's not very likely. The districts are always hungry for money and are willing to do damned near anything to get it. Any demands for accountability can be obfuscated or even ignored provided there's much accountability at all.

Well surprise, surprise, the chickens are coming home to roost and with them some demands that the money produce results, i.e. federal control. It's not direct control but control that derives from the requirement of proof that the money is being used as appropriated and is producing the results intended.

Mike said...

Ah. Allen is indeed correct. It is a bit disengenuous of those who support NCLB to say that it does not mandate anything (I'm generalizing here, by the way, not referring to any specific person, but the debate as a whole). This is, of course, true as far as it goes, but Allen lays out what we're not being told.

Yes, no state need accept federal funds for anything at all, including education. But the political reality is that when the feds dangle untold billions for the states, few state politicians will be able to stand on federalism as an explanation for why they refused those federal highway or education funds, while all the surrounding states gladly accepted them, attached strings and all. Do we imagine that federal level politicians and bureaucrats don't know and exploit this?

Once a federal bureaucracy is established, it is virtually impossible for it to be wiped from existance (name one in the last, oh, 50 years or so?), thus the federal DOE will be with us for a long, long time. Three quick absurdities that should have anyone concerned about overbearing governmental intrusion annoyed: (1) Fed. DOE Secretary Spellings, in a recent op-ed, professing her great and undying respect for local control of education; (2) Spellings recently declaring NCLB a civil right; and (3) the provision of NCLB mandating (yes, it is so a mandate--see Allen's post and my first two paragraphs if you have questions) that every child in America be able to perform on grade level by a date certain.

Why should one be concerned about these issues? Whenever a beltway bureaucrat professes respect for local control, it's very easy to tell that they are lying: their lips are moving. If they truly had the respect they so easily claim, if they really believed in federalism, they would be out of a job because they would be among the first to demand that they be put out of the job. NCLB is a civil right? I think the Constitution addressed that issue long ago, no? If we establish new civil rights through the legislative process, rather than the constitutional amendment process, we're in deep, deep trouble on many levels as new civil rights will pop up and be struck down with each swing of the partisan pendulum. And finally, it is absolutely impossible for every child in America to function on grade level by any date (need I really explain why not everyone can be average?) Unless of course the attainment of such a nonsensical goal will be treated in the same way that language is when Ms. Spellings professes respect for local control. After all, isn't black really white and isn't up really down, and aren't federal mandates really local control?