Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brutal

From the outset I must confess that I had zero hope that the hiring of Mark McQuillan as Connecticut's Education Commissioner would be good for education. I am therefore not disappointed when I read Priority: Scores Gap by Robert Frahm from yesterday's Courant.

He "says holding schools accountable for progress will be a top priority.

In addition to an exit exam, McQuillan also is considering ideas such as tighter monitoring of local districts' performance and a longer school day and school year for struggling schools."


No wonder. The article goes on to say...

In Massachusetts, McQuillan was a key figure in efforts to improve schools under the demands of the No Child Left Behind Act, a 5-year-old federal law that relies heavily on testing and calls for a shake-up of schools that fail to make sufficient progress.

McQuillan said Connecticut should monitor schools that fail to progress under the federal law "and find ways to intervene and support and insist upon changes," including monitoring curriculum and school budgets.

One promising strategy, he said, is to lengthen the school day and school year in low-performing schools. "It's a battle against time. . . . You have [only] 185 days in a school year, six hours a day. It's a large hurdle to overcome."

Connecticut desperately needs relief from the failing Cargo Cult logic of NCLB and its proponents. But stupid is as stupid does and when something in the federal government fails then the the response is predictable as a new day. Throw more money at it, market it harder, and drown the victims in even more waste product.

Thankfully, I am not a student and my kids are almost out of this system. I am convinced that education is the one place where Bush's policies have succeeded. In six short years, Bush and his enablers have managed to destroy the public school system in this country and that was always the intent of NCLB. If McQuillan is the answer then I can't imagine what the question is.

The goals of education that matter to me are that every student be respected as an individual, that they learn to learn, and that they have the freedom to learn according to their own biological calling. And, today, the public schools in America practice nothing of the sort. We are told bluntly that the only thing that matters is conformity to ever more testing and more test preparation and more of the same failing pedagogy.

Governor Rell justifies this social engineering experiment on public school children by spending more and more and more on education. We need to stop throwing money on the NCLB bonfire and re-examine what delivering quality education means.

We don't need high school exit tests, we need elementary school interventions at third, fourth, and fifth grade that ensure our kids are lifelong readers. The same goes for math. High school is not a safety net for remedial reading, it is far too late.

And minority proponents of NCLB who sell their children's souls to the false prophets who sell them magic elixirs such as NCLB can no longer complain being victims of someone else's misguided intentions. Advocating a renewal of NCLB sentences your children and schools to another generation of failure.

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