by Milo Millipede, Thu Oct 23, 2008 at 08:26:24 AM EDT
There's a "heart-felt" complaint about No Child Left Behind currently posted on Common Dreams by Demitrious C. Sinor, and it isn't worth reading, but deep in the comments a pseudonym "sister h" has added a relatively fluent defense of George W. Bush's most salient educational initiative.
"Although many decry the push towards proficiency, progressives should not join in on the sneering. 'Can we get a show of hands of parents who do not want their children to be taught to be proficient?'"
"Schools were never required to improve before, and are demonstrating themselves to be, on the whole, not good at it."
It's tempting to say that "sister h" writes like a well-trained bureaucrat now residing in the upper bureraucracy: maybe an area superintendant in a big district or a professor of education or even a deputy assistant secretary somewhere in the US Department of Education.
But of course this tempting categorization vastly over-estimates the writing style of the clowns who actually occupy those positions. Where's the jargon? Where's the jungle of statistics carefully adjusted to be consistent with everything except what it claims to measure?
"32% of Hispanic elementary students in District X are now reading with moderate proficiency..." meaning three grade-levels behind the grade in which they are actually enrolled, and nobody except the negotiators for five or six competing interest groups has the least idea how "grade-level" was defined and redefined and redefined again or even approximately what these children are supposed to be reading at their conceptually nebulous but now precisely defined-by-standardized-test level of "proficiency."
Could one in a hundred of these "moderately proficient" students make sense of the previous sentence?
Why would they want to?
"Sister h" wraps up her essay with a conclusion that nobody can reasonably dispute: You can't blame NCLB for everything that's wrong with schools. But a little refinement can turn the convenient straw-man she knocks down into something that isn't quite so convenient for NCLB's apologists.
On a given day in the run-up to one of the NCLB tests, there's virtually nothing happening in thousands of classrooms except drilling for the test, with a little noise from unruly recidivists left over.
It isn't exactly like prison...
Not until you get all the way down to Guantanamo on the spectrum of prisons! Because even in Folsom, nobody tries to control the attention of the prisoners, and sensory deprivation doesn't extendto blinkered concentration on one square foot of reality. You may be in total lock-down, but nobody tells you exactly what to look at!
On those days, NCLB really is responsible for everything that's wrong with schools, and the fantastic regimentation of non-stop drilling is a form of torture only a few "grade-levels" removed from Guantanamo Bay.