I'm on break this week, but that doesn't mean I can just take the week off from my master's class. Yes, it's a class that I must do at my own pace for the most part, but that pace assumes only one week of vacation for Spring Break and not a February Ski Week as well as Spring Break. Still, I've been less than diligent the last couple days.
That isn't really a problem. I'm far enough ahead of where I should be that taking a couple days off isn't going to hurt me. However, I don't want to get into the habit of being lazy and not doing the work. After all, those two big papers aren't going to write themselves! And all that reading and the response writings aren't going to do themselves, either.
But absent a strong motivator and a specified block of time for homework, it just doesn't get done. When I'm working I block out 5-7 pm for schoolwork, with a quick dinner in there somewhere. Homework has to be done between the time I get home from work and when I go to bed. But during vacation, when I don't have to work and have no reason to go to bed at a specific time, I also don't have the motivation to do my homework.
That changed yesterday, though, when I received a book in the mail from the library at the University of Idaho.
My big research paper this semester is tentatively titled The Rise And Fall of the No Child Left Behind Act. I'm going all the way back to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to start telling of the rise--but the genesis seems to be a woman, Alice Rivlin, seemingly unknown in academic circles. She ran a small office in the Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare that helped introduce the concept of accountability (among other things) into education. Her 1971 book Systematic Thinking for Social Action, clearly written from a liberal perspective, is essentially a clarion call for the No Child Left Behind Act. I started reading the book today and didn't stop until I was done, 144 pages later along with over 5 pages of notes and quotes. I didn't do 3 days' worth of work today, but I'm quite pleased with what I accomplished. I did enough.
I toyed with whether or not to change the focus of my research paper and focus more on this book. Since the course is History of Educational Thought, I decided to stick with my original plan of starting in 1965 and tracing the development of NCLB until its passage in January, 2002. That requires giving this book short shrift, though, keeping it merely as one strong thread in the tapestry that became NCLB. The paper is limited to no more than 7 pages so I can't delve too deeply into this book, but I marvel that it so strongly advocated for something NCLB-like and yet the author (scroll down to 6/9/03) does not at all sound like she supported the law--probably because it was signed by a president with an R after his name instead of a D. After all, she was OMB director under President Clinton, who also appointed her to the Federal Reserve Board, and she's a registered Democrat. Just goes to show how far the Democrats of today have slid from reality, given that she made perfect sense in 1971.