FYI: Today’s 5-mile tempo run was muggy: (+68f, 100% humidity, bugs galore).
Okay, I really didn’t like it as an 8th grader, but I think as a teacher, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” (part II) makes me smile:
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave the kids alone
Hey teacher leave us kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall
As an 8th grader, I took that to mean that the teachers were the bad people and that kids were the victims. I liked school and I liked my teachers (only a lone 1st grade teacher still scares me in my memory). As an adult and a teacher, I like the message of the song and yes, I do find myself singing at school (to myself). And it’s probably because the picture in the song does happen sometimes, but more than that, I think students do feel this way: antsy and passive and stuck.
So, when I read about how some folk cheer on NCLB and think that it’s a great idea to revolutionize US public education, I start humming the song again, but with a nervousness.
Today’s Chicago Tribune has an opinion piece trying to encourage its readers to give the law more time and most of all: to point out the good things of the “law of the land.” One major problem, I see, is that you can not talk about education through the lens of NCLB without using Business-speak (for somehow, US businesses can fix education if education would only kowtow to the slavery of the “bottom-line” of numbers).
Here’s a taste of how this business of education terminology is used to “support” this stance (and remember: we are talking about a child’s ability to learn):
Thanks to NCLB, many parents are better consumers of education. Nearly half a million parents now shop among private tutoring firms to choose the best extra help for their child.
And this simple solution that is based on a reliance of funding that may or may not be there (and, I Spy privatization) :
One way to enforce the law is to provide more alternative choices for students. The Bush administration wants to fund scholarships that students in failing schools could use at any other public or private school.
Measure progress, not status.
And here’s the explanation of the above idea:
Under a “growth model” for measuring student gains, a state evaluates how far each child progresses each year. If schools post sufficient student gains, they can meet the NCLB requirement of Adequate Yearly Progress.
And that is what is offensive about the opinion piece: It puts a test (the “bottom line”) as being the only way (well, actually there are other measures, but the test is the easiest one to look at–for both politicians and the media) to find out if the student knows. A problem is the reliability of the test: Doesn’t anyone remember that the school district that this law is based on was a lie? The “Houston Miracle” was a hoax and yet, like other legislation that was pushed through in a show of unity after the horrible days of the end of 2001, the public believed and trusted our lawmakers.
The unions are not so much the problem with the success of NCLB; the problem with NCLB is NCLB.
A suggestion for the next educational reform (oh, and we just love to have at least one or two a decade): Return public schools to a democracy. Allow your classroom teachers to help make decisions rather than make them merely workers, only to fulfill something that goes against the process of learning. (Oh, try this: look at who is on these education reform committees and try to I Spy the active classroom teachers…it’ll take awhile to find ’em) Lastly, stop referring to education in business terms… they’re students, not “just another brick in the wall” or number on a high-stakes exam.
Afterword: Perhaps, maybe, we should use a sports metaphor, like baseball, to measure student success. You don’t measure a player by last night’s game, but after a 100+ games and season–that way you have an accurate picture of their strengths and weakness and can work with the player/student on an individual basis. Just an idea.