Mike Kueber's Blog

February 10, 2013

What comes after No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top?

Filed under: Education — Mike Kueber @ 5:11 am
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What is the role of the federal government in education policy?  In a NY Times article, Arne Duncan, the current Secretary of Education, said, “The federal government does not serve as a national school board.”  But, according to an old saying, the sound of his actions is so loud you can’t hear what he is saying.  His actions reveal that, through Obama’s Race to the Top and Duncan’s conditional waivers of No Child Left Behind standards, the federal government has prevailed up 31 states to “require that teacher evaluations be based in part on growth in student achievement on standardized tests.” 

The Times article lists the traditional arguments against such testing and teacher evaluations:

  • It doesn’t cultivate the type of thinking we need.
  • It doesn’t bring in the resources that we need to make students successful.
  • Nineteen states had dummied down standards under the No Child Left Behind law.
  • The law has compelled educators to teach to the tests and set off a spate of cheating scandals.

Texas State Rep. Mike Villarreal recently posted a column in the The Rivard Report describing his legislation to severely curtail the amount of testing done in Texas schools.  Historically, I’ve found Villarreal to be an advocate the local teacher unions, and not so much an advocate for the kids, so I responded to his column as follows:

  • This push to de-emphasize testing reminds me of the football coach, like Jerry Jones, who suggests that keeping score next year will not be a good idea while his team flounders about trying to learn their new 4-3 defensive scheme. We all know coaches (and teachers) who talk a good game, but utterly fail to connect with their players or deliver results.”

Historically, I’ve also opposed the federal government acting like a national school board, but sometimes it is difficult to stick with your principles when states and local government do such a bad job.  Just like the bad job they did in failing to fix our medical-insurance problem, which resulted in ObamaCare.


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