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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

read it and weep

For base hypocrisy this must read article in today's New York Times takes the cake.

States are currently, with the Bush Administration's encouragement, omitting the test results for minority students in a jerry-rigged attempt to manipulate provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

What does this mean? What it means is that many non-white children ARE deliberately left out and left behind...and, yep, discounted by the "soft bigotry of low expectations." The hypocrisy is stunning. We've been told about the importance of test scores for years by this president, including emphasizing just this racial breakdown and accountability, and now we find that in many cases it's only the test scores of white students that matter:

To calculate a nationwide estimate, the AP analyzed the 2003-04 enrollment figures the government collected -- the latest on record -- and applied the current racial category exemptions the states use.

Overall, the AP found that about 1.9 million students -- or about 1 in every 14 test scores -- aren't being counted under the law's racial categories. Minorities are seven times as likely to have their scores excluded as whites, the analysis showed.

Less than 2 percent of white children's scores aren't being counted as a separate category. In contrast, Hispanics and blacks have roughly 10 percent of their scores excluded. More than one-third of Asian scores and nearly half of American Indian scores aren't broken out, AP found.

What does this mean in effect? Why is this happening? Well, one thing is that schools and states that have minority enrollment of 10% or 20% are going to have no reason to address achievment gaps, and will be exempt from accountability under the NCLB Act. Believe you me, educators and legislators in those schools and states are willing to THROW OUT the test scores of some of their non-white students in order to avoid that accountability. On the other hand, schools that are majority non-white will be looking at the harshest consequences of the NCLB. For the poorest and most struggling schools, nothing has changed.

Hypocrisy like this should make your blood boil. It sure does mine.

One pillar of our American ideals is a public school system that works for EVERYONE...it's where we learn our basic civic values including respect for the equality of every individual. That was the basic appeal of the rhetoric behind the very flawed legislation of NCLB. People want public schools that work.

With the Bush Administration, however, it's clear that, we should NEVER believe what the say or take on face value GOP appeals to "shared values". Once again, George Bush has gone out of his way to show that some people are more equal than others.

This hypocrisy is galling.

4 Comments:

  • But isn't this a system that is designed to label all public schools as failing, since by creating as many categories as possible the school is bound to fail sometime, especially if some of the groups are only 10 students. In that case, one student doing worse would lead to the entire school failing.

    The minority students are being counted the same as everyone else in the overall test scores, right?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:06 PM  

  • Interesting and galling, yes.... surprising? not so much...

    I wonder what effect all the NCLB shenanigans have on teachers nowadays. Have schools simply become another profit center, fighting for a slice of the budget or are there still dedicated teachers out there, trying to do the right thing?

    When I went to school, we paid $14 for the yearly registration - and I got a damned good education, probably better than I deserved for the amount of work I put into it, frankly. No child was left behind because it was a small school and the teachers were able to connect with the students. I don't know if there were budget concerns but we weren't numbers and there was no fudging the numbers to keep some distant bureaucrats happy.

    As for the "soft bigotry of lowered expectations", the world knows, by now, that Bush can talk a good game, yet consistently fails to deliver.

    Good catch!

    By Anonymous Ripley, at 4:07 PM  

  • I am somehow not surprised -- Virginia came up with the following scheme:

    1. Test some 3rd graders and some 4th graders
    2. Create a "passing rate" which consisted of: (3rd graders who passed + 4th graders who passed)/(3rd graders who took the test)
    3. Report this "passing rate" to the public as the fraction of 3rd graders who passed

    If this kind of thing interests you, you might want to read Bob Somerby's blog, as he's the one on the left who has been looking at education issues the most recently.

    By Anonymous silence, at 4:57 PM  

  • NCLB = train the students to pass the tests.

    NCLB = train the teachers to train the students to pass the tests.

    NCLB = train the administrators to train the teachers to get results from the students that enable the school to pass the test.

    Don't educate anyone.

    Given the condition of the "real world" these may be appropriate skills, but I weep for the waste of human capacity.

    By Blogger janinsanfran, at 8:31 PM  

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