George - as you know from reading the posts on this list, the "success" of NCLB comes in the form of higher test scores. So if we can show that scores are going up, we can say that NCLB is working.
The question that haunts me and many others is this: if test scores are going up, what is going down? As you know, there is mounting evidence that reading and math are being given a near-exclusive focus in more and more public schools. For example, the Center on Education Policy reported last year that 27 percent of school systems say they are spending less time on social studies, and nearly 25 percent say they are spending less time on science, art and music. In another study, the Council of Basic Education surveyed 954 principals last year in 4 states in different parts of the country: Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico, and New York. They all reported that their schools were spending less time on social studies, art, and foreign languages. According to the Council of Basic Education’s report, 47% of high-minority schools reported decreases in social studies instruction.
Why on earth would schools spend less time on teaching kids about history, government, and citizenship? The simple fact is these subjects are not tested under the law. NCLB declares that only reading and math (and science in 2007) get tested in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But if it’s not on the test, it’s not getting taught.
Let's be clear here: we're talking about poor children, minority children, children with disabilities, children who have recently emigrated to this country who don't speak English. In other words, the children who NCLB claims to help. Yet these are the very children that are being left behind, that are being given third-rate educations, that are not being given the kind of high-quality educations that their white, wealthy, native-English-speaking peers take for granted.
Across St. Louis public schools, I hear the same thing: teachers are not teaching social studies any more. This horrified me, so I spoke at length to Bill Gerling, Assistant Director of Assessment and a Social Studies Consultant at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. He is equally concerned about social studies instruction in Missouri.
Now some of us might be tempted to say, “Well, these are tough times. So we have to cut something.”
But social studies?
No history? No geography? No study of the Constitution? No study of how laws are made and passed? Isn’t one of the major goals of education to prepare our children to be good citizens? But how can they be good citizens if they have no idea how our country started? How can they be good citizens if they have no idea what the Bill of Rights is? How can they be good citizens if they know nothing about the people and places of this country? How can they be good citizens if they know nothing about how laws are made? Who actually benefits from this?
So if public schools are working (i.e., raising test scores), what are they working at doing?
On Jan 19, 2006, at 10:27 AM, George K Cunningham wrote:
I am confused. From what I read on this list, the purpose of NCLB is to
wreck the schools so education can be turned over to private companies.
When Ravitch says that NCLB is working, i.e. schools are improving as a
result of it, isn't she undermining the overall purpose of NCLB.
The best strategy for those of you who do not want public schools to be
replaced by private companies should be promoting the success of NCLB in
raising scores. That would mean there would be no reason to eliminate
public schools because they are working.
George K. Cunningham
- Re: Ravitch
- From: "George K Cunningham" <email@example.com>
Post a Message to arn-l: