Thursday, March 30, 2006

NCLB Bogeyman

Regular New York Times readers are surely under the impression that No Child Left Behind is absolutely ravaging the collective self-esteem of most public school communities, because so many totally awesome schools are being labeled "failing." Check out these state-by-state figures compiled by Bloomberg News (posted on the Fordham Foundation's site) and see if you're still buying that storyline for New York.

Seems it's easier to make the case that the federal law is too lenient, rather than too harsh. (New York, according to the charts, boasts that 80% of its students are a bunch of brainiacs under the law - yet even NYSUT, CFE, and the smaller class size advocates argue that our state's schools are so awful that we need billions and billions of dollars more to fix things. The point: people on every side of the issue understand that there are lots more than 20% of the state's kids who are getting screwed under the present system.)

Doesn't it suggest that New York may be gaming the system? So what is everyone afraid of with all this NCLB stuff anyway? Does anyone remember the last time (other than charter schools that were closed as part of built-in accountability systems in the state's charter school law) that any grownup actually suffered because their school sucked? That's not the way we do things. If you fail, you get more cash. NCLB, the way it is currently enforced, will not change that. Fear not, New Yorkers!

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