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Re: Information on NCLB



And you should have informed us that ALEC lists People for the American
Way as a left wing organization. So what.

George K. Cunningham
University of Louisville

>>> pwmjoy@earthlink.net 3/14/2004 2:46:18 PM >>>
By the way, Mr. Cunningham should have informed us that ALEC is listed
as a
right wing organization by
People for the American Way. Go to:
http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=6990 to read about
this
group. You will find such things as the following: "ALEC is a right
wing
public policy organization with strong ties to major corporations,
trade
associations and right wing politicians. ALEC's agenda includes
rolling back
civil rights, challenging government restrictions on corporate
pollution,
and limiting government regulations of commerce, privatizing public
services, and representing the interests of the corporations that make
up
its supporters." So now, let's take each of ALEC's attempts to
de-mythologize the criticisms of NCLB and de-construct them and by
doing so
return them to their proper place as misguided attempts to address
lofty
goals behind which a whole lot of bs resides. I will restate separately
and
in order the myth they list and their attempt at demythologizing the
criticism of NCLB. This will be followed by my de-construction of that
shallow attempt to appear factual and scientific. Here we go:

SO CALLED MYTH #1:NCLB is an unfunded mandate that forces states to
comply
with a one-size-fits-all education system. SO CALLED FACT: The
President and
Congress have not only fully funded these higher standards, but states
are
also empowered with a great deal of flexibility as they implement
these goals. With the high standards for public elementary and
secondary
education that NCLB sets forth comes a $6.4 billion or a 28.5
percent increase in federal education dollars. Instead of binding
funding to
many specific programs that are not proven effective
to increase academic achievement, federal funding is now correlated to
several broad areas, such as academic achievement, high quality
teachers,
parental choice, and accountability, for states to find methods that
best
suit them.
DE-CONSTRUCTION: States are not fully funded either by virtue of the
absence
of funds for specific NCLB requirements forcing states to shift other
funding into NCLB creating a shortfall in adjacent educational arenas
or the
funding is there for NCLB but both state and federal funding is short
in
other critical areas that cannot be separated from NCLB goals.
Furthermore,
funding for food, housing, and unemployment has diminished and the
effects on children are severe when understood from the perspective of
readiness for school and learning. The American Society of Civil
engineers
reports that 75% of the nations school buildings are inadequate. More
than
127 billion dollars is needed to build new classrooms and repair old
schools. In addition to other reasons for opposing NCLB, this is the
fiscal
basis for why states are so angry at this legislation.Furthermore, to
say
that NCLB is not one size fits all because of latitude regarding
standardized tests is naive and fatally flawed. It's like saying that
if
the government wants everyone to develop a tolerance for poison by
giving
each individual the freedom to choose that poison, no one is being
force fit
into a behavior. The one size fits all is the requirement to tolerate
a
poison,i.e., standardized testing. Add to this the fact that the
standards
bar in one state can be lower than that in another producing
"successful
schools" in one and "failing schools" in the other even though students
in
the
failing schools may have performed relatively better than their
counterparts
in the passing schools!

SO CALLED MYTH #2. NCLB is just a new list of federal mandates that
states
have to follow.
SO CALLED FACT: Many of the "new mandates" aren't new at all.
Accountability
measures were already in place prior to NCLB. Under the 1994
reauthorization
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which preceded NCLB's
enactment by eight years, each state was required to develop
comprehensive
academic standards and correlate those standards with a
curriculum-based
exam. At least math and reading exam were to be administeredat three
grade
levels. Unfortunately, states were never held accountable to be in
compliance with the 1994 law.
DE-CONSTRUCTION: Then why did not the federal government simply enforce
the
1994 reauthorization? Because it was an opportunity to politicize
educational shortcomings without having to be honest and without having
to
study the reasons why the reauthorization failed. Additionally, anyone
who
pretends that NCLB is really nothing new, yet on the other hand asserts
it
is
the most wide sweeping educational legislation in the history of the
country,
is deeper into his/her own Orwellian nightmare than they realize.

SO CALLED MYTH #3. NCLB requires a national standardized test; when in
truth, it is quite the opposite.
SO CALLED FACT: The law actually forbids a national test, and states
are
free to choose the testing standards that best fit their students'
needs.
DECONSTRUCTION: This is an attempt to duplicate the first myth. See
that
deconstruction. In addition, common sense tells us that what is taking
place
is a movement to nationalize education however kindly nationalizers
want to
remind us of the freedom states have to create their own test.

SO CALLED MYTH #4. The federal government has created unrealistic
demands on
the requirements teachers must meet before becoming highly qualified.
SO CALLED FACT: In order to be certified as a highly qualified teacher,
the
instructor must be fully certified, have a bachelor's degree, and have
demonstrated knowledge in the teacher's
subject area. Every state already mandates the first two requirements.
Each
state education agency has the freedom to find the best way to
determine if
a teacher has demonstrated subject-specific mastery. NCLB gives states
the
flexibility to create "highly qualified" standards; they have the
choice of
a test or an objective evaluation system developed or approved by the
state.
DECONSTRUCTION: This makes a mountain out of a mole hill because it
implies
that teachers in general are not highly qualified. It is meant to
continue
the theme of teacher bashing. Other than that, it adds practically
nothing
to the reality that most teachers are highly qualified. It is also the
resurrection of anti-unionism, not new, intended to to give sole
authority
in hiring and firing to administrators about whom NCLB has little if
nothing
to say. It is very close to the other underlying motive of de-powering
teachers to rid the privatization process of one of its most difficult
roadblocks.

SO CALLED MYTH #5. Seeking advanced certification will put financial
burdens
on teachers.
SO CALLED FACT: The federal law includes new tools and flexibility for
teachers. Federal funding for teacher programs is being increased by
38
percent, from $787 million to$2.85 billion, to help states train,
recruit,
and retain quality teachers.
DECONSTRUCTION: Again, part of the teacher bashing theme as if most
teachers
are not certified. The underlying motive is to set up a control system
that
orchestrates certification nationally while appearing to be flexible
and
packed with new tools. Common sense dictates that the tools will not be
new
nor flexible since NCLB at its epicenter is quite the opposite.
Orwellian
doublespeak fills the propaganda outreach everywhere one turns to take
another peek at NCLB. Look at the source of all this...look at the
source...and learn that ideological vampires are at it again.

SO CALLED MYTH #6. School administrators don't have the flexibility to
recruit and retain teachers.
SO CALLED FACT: With the need for exemplary teachers in fields such as
math,
science and special education, NCLB offers states options to attract
uniquely qualified professionals to the teaching field. The high
quality
teachers recruitment and retention programs caninclude professional
development opportunities,
differential pay, signing bonuses, and performance bonuses, just to
name a
few.
DECONSTRUCTION: Again, more anti-union themes not to mention opposition
to
real teaching and learning. The "options" are all connected to
classical
sales personnel motivational goodies. The criteria can only be
increased
standardized test scores for that is the only obsession of NCLB.
"Uniquely
qualified professionals" is more doublespeak for those who will fetch
the
bone called increasing student test scores. In essence, the whole
package is
a reductionistic sham. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" is alive and well
in
NCLB which will bind schools to the illusory focus on the shadows on
the
wall.

SO CALLED MYTH #7. Schools in need of improvement will lose federal
funding.
SO CALLED FACT: To the contrary, there are no financial penalties for
schools that do not make adequate yearly progress. In fact, states must
set
aside a portion of their Title I funds that is expressly marked to
provide
schools in need of improvement additional assistance.
DECONSTRUCTION: This is a laugher. Ask any education department, state
or
local, if this is not just "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul". That
ALEC can
state this with a straight face is a tragic-comedy.

SO CALLED MYTH #8. Schools must pay for tutors, instead of using money
on
general school improvements.
SO CALLED FACT: If a school is deemed in need of improvement for three
consecutive years, the district must provide a supplemental education
service option. This service can be paid for with a portion of the
Title I
funds that states that will have explicitly for schools in need of
improvement. States can choose from a variety of options regarding
supplemental services, including public or private sector providers,
to
offer students tutoring, additional classes, or individualized
education
assistance.These new options for families and students are significant
steps
to help children trapped in failing school systems have a chance at a
successful education.
DECONSTRUCTION: Quickly peek at the last deconstruction. Then, add
this:
options? The $? Catch that "private sector providers" bit. Children
are
trapped in failing schools because the money is not there to fix the
schools' physical plants, reduce class size, operate with state of the
art
technology, and deal with the poverty, abuse, and parental neglect
which
frame their lives.

SO CALLED MYTH #9. NCLB reduces local control of schools.
SO CALLED FACT: The federal law expands local control of schools.
After
almost four decades of federal government involvement with stagnant
academic
results, federal education spending will finally be directly tied to
student
achievement and school success. For the first time, states and
individual
school districts can now transfer up to 50 percent of the federal
formula
grant funds they receiveunder the Improving Teacher Quality State
Grants,
Educational Technology, Innovative Programs, and Safe and Drug-Free
Schools
programs to any one Title I program without separate approval.
DECONSTRUCTION: Another logically flawed assertion. Schools have local
control over whether or not they want to go along with the dictates of
NCLB.
If they opt out, they lose Title I funds. Only rich school systems can
do
that. The reins are tighter than ever on local options, i.e., local
control.
But all of this is bogus anyway. The fact is that the conversation
about
improving our schools does not exist except at a very removed, elite,
and
largely corporate brotherhood level. ALEC is part of that hob-nobbing
set
thirsty for privatization.

SO CALLED MYTH #10. More money will fix the nation's education
problems.
SO CALLED FACT: The problem with America's education system has not
been a
lack of funding, but a lack of accountability for the money our
schools
spend. Despite America's multibillion dollar investments in public
education, students still have lower performance records than their
foreign
counterparts, and the achievement gap between rich, poor, white, and
minority students is still wide. In the past 20 years, per pupil
funding has
increased by an average of $2269 in real dollars, but Scholastic
Aptitude
Test scores have declined, and 74 percent of public school eighth
graders
who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress in
mathematics
failed to reach the proficiency level. In response to this discrepancy,
NCLB
takes significant steps to fundamentally change the education
establishment
that has seemed to be content with stagnant test scores and rigid
programs.
NCLB creates a partnership between the state and federal governments
to
create higher standards and increase accountability so to increase
student
academic achievement.
DECONSTRUCTION: More selective test data out of context. Read Gerald
Bracey's comments about this problem of cooking the statistical books.
In
fact, study the Ron Paige statistical debacle at HISD, one of the faux
model
school systems that the equally faux NCLB legislation looked to for
proof of
its specific treatment necessary to raise schools that were doing
poorly.
Here's an example from Bracey: "...a 2003 study found that students in
only
3 of 35 countries had significantly higher reading scores than
American
kids. American students in schools with 25% or fewer students in
poverty
outscored--by a lot--the highest scoring country, Sweden. If the
American
kids attending schools with 25-50 percent poverty rates constituted a
nation, its score would rank it 4th among 35 countries. Those two
poverty
categories contain 58% of all American students...In fact, only
students
attending schools where 75% or more kids live in poverty scored below
the
national average." On top of this, regardless what Paige and the
corpopublicans say, money is an issue. Ask them if it is when it comes
to
corporate profits, and legislation that feeds their greed. Man, their
eyes
begin to look like Vegas slot machines. The federal government
contributes
about 7% to the total cost of education in America! The rest comes
from
states and locals. The federal government spends 3.8% of its total
budget on
combined spending for education, employment, and social services! Mind
you
that 18.8% of federal spending goes to the military-industrial
complex!
Public schools are not perfect and change in many of them
is very important. What a group like ALEC does is foster legislation
like
NCLB
because it has another agenda, and that is not the improvement of
public
education but the poisitioning of public education via its propaganda
network in order to re-direct public monies into vouchers. That is its
sole
raison d'etre.

Thanks,
Pete Majoy

-----Original Message-----
From: George K Cunningham <gkc@louisville.edu>
To: arn-l@interversity.org <arn-l@interversity.org>
Date: Thursday, March 11, 2004 8:59 PM
Subject: [arn-l] Information on NCLB


>I thought the members of this list might be interested in this useful
>information about NCLB. Many here have misconceptions about this
law.
>
>AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL
>
>http://www.alec.org/meSWFiles/pdf/NCLB%20MythsFacts.pdf