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how embarrassing...

Minnesota's on this list of states facing penalties because they didn't "make enough effort to comply" with No Child Left Behind on time.

From one of the top states in the country, to this ... in a matter of years.

People who've been paying closer attention than I, who do I blame for this? Jesse? Bush? Pawlenty?

Bah.

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about the situation in MN, but I'm beginning to think the best way to deal with education in MA might be to budget money to pay penalties to the Feds and just blow off No Child Left Behind.

(Some of the standards boil down to "all students must exceed median performance". Put that in your pipe and smoke it...)
abce
May. 13th, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC)
The standard that MN, as well as a number of other states is failing, is the requirement that every classroom for a core subject has a qualified teacher - defined as having a bachelor's degree, a teaching certificate, and proven competency in their subject.

In what way does that boil down to "exceeds median performance"?
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC)
I should have been clearer. When I said "I know nothing about the situation in MN" I should have added "and I haven't bothered to click on the link".

So I wasn't talking about the teacher accreditation standards; although I think they're worth debating as well.

(I'm curious if you think my rhetorical style is so obtuse that you need to call me on non-sequitors or if you just found it confusing?)
abce
May. 13th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC)
I find rhetorical styles where misleading soundbites, especially non sequiturs, tossed into a discussion, to confuse the discussion, and, if not called on, lead to subsequent participants in a conversation assuming that the non sequitur was a meaningful addition to the discussion at hand.

But since this is now a tangent, if I functionally understand your proposal, it would be to no longer accept federal funding for education in Massachusetts (that is the "penalty" the federal government is applying), in exchange for not having to be accountable to the federal government (a result of which would mean no real accountability, since no one else is forcing accountability into the system)?

If I can do math correctly, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (www.massbudget.org), the federal government provides 6.5% of the education funding in Massachusetts. Since state and local funding in Massachusetts is 4.19% of personal income, all we'd have to do to replace that is levy an additional .27% income tax (although, to be practical, that needs to be .3% to account for all those who have a net non-positive income tax liability).

Of course, that number is a best-case scenario. All of the teacher-affiliated advocacy groups are already calling for more funding. For those of us who believe that the lack of accountability increases waste (which impacts children), the number would go up; but let's just start with that .3%. Worth it to not have to expose how the education system works? Not from my perspective.

(non-sarcastic: I believe this is an appropriate response to your rhetorical non sequitur.)
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
rhetoric
"I find rhetorical styles where misleading soundbites, especially non sequiturs, tossed into a discussion, to confuse the discussion, and, if not called on, lead to subsequent participants in a conversation assuming that the non sequitur was a meaningful addition to the discussion at hand."

Are you of the opinion that is my general style of discussion?
Do you assume that I have motivations of an interesting discussion, or that I am primarily interested in hoodwinking other people?

abce
May. 13th, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)
Re: rhetoric
I had the assumption that you were interested in an interesting discussion, therefore, I responded accordingly. I don't not think you were intentionally attempting to mislead anyone, but, unaddressed, people could be misled into believing that the failure of the schools was failure to achieve and impossible goal.
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
Re: rhetoric
To my ear (eye?), your first question to me had the sense of "gotcha" as opposed to "I think we're talking about different things". I'm not particularly bothered by this, but I wondered if you know you come across that way.
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
accountability
"if I functionally understand your proposal, it would be to no longer accept federal funding for education in Massachusetts (that is the "penalty" the federal government is applying), in exchange for not having to be accountable to the federal government (a result of which would mean no real accountability, since no one else is forcing accountability into the system)?"

Yes, you have understood me 100% correctly. I think the standards movement in education doesn't solve any of the problems that bother me about our public education system.

I am strongly opposed to top-down education policy; I am a big fan of municipality and school district-based standard and I would be willing for my state income tax rate increase to 6% to pay for such flexibility. I want superintendents to be responsible to school boards and school boards responsible to the electorate. Towns that want to have crappy school systems because they don't want to fund them should be able to do so, and I should be free to choose not to live there.

(As another aside I find it odd that federally mandated education policy is considered a conservative issue, as it seems very non-small-government to me.)
abce
May. 13th, 2006 06:32 pm (UTC)
Re: accountability
What about the underprivileged who are unable to move out a failing district? (as an aside, I thought caring about the underprivileged was a liberal issue).

I don't think that the federal government should run schools. However, ensuring that our children are able to get a good education, is something that the federal government should consider. Since, arguably, pre-NCLB, our schools were failing at that, and the federal government subsidizes the schools, the federal government has both a responsibility, and the capability, to act.

chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 06:50 pm (UTC)
Re: accountability
It's an interesting philosophical question. Do you mandate mediocrity, because that would be fair, or do you allow some people to fall through the cracks.

"ensuring that our children are able to get a good education, is something that the federal government should consider."

The problem as I see it is that while we may be able to unanimously define what it means for a school to fail, I don't think we can come even close to agreeing as a nation, what it means for a school to succeed.
abce
May. 13th, 2006 06:45 pm (UTC)
Re: accountability
(and to actually answer the aside, instead of my snarky counteraside):

The conservative/libertarian viewpoint on education is that it should be a free market. Families should have options, and schools that are unable to take care of their students should be forced to compete. The problem with your scenario is that you're tying real estate to the local school district monopoly; and as long as the local school district has an unfair advantage (being the sole recipient of public monies), you stifle competition.

From my perspective, NCLB is less valuable than school choice; I tend to take the conservative viewpoint on this issue.
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
Re: accountability
Isn't there still competition for school board?
kirisutogomen
May. 14th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
Re: accountability
If we believe that education is a public good, then it doesn't make sense to allow anyone to have a crappy school system. If we don't believe that it's a public good, then there's no excuse for government to be involved in the first place.
chenoameg
May. 15th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC)
Re: accountability
Not all government is equivalent. Which government should be responsible?
kirisutogomen
May. 15th, 2006 06:06 am (UTC)
Re: accountability
Unless you believe that Brown v. Board of Education was decided incorrectly, I think we're in agreement that responsibility is divided between multiple levels of government.

There is a national public interest in a minimum level of educational quality, isn't there? Don't I benefit from having a mildly literate electorate in Kansas?
gentlescholar
May. 13th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
Well, I'll bite on that one. I'm pretty sure that there are nowhere near enough teachers for even a majority of them to have "proven competency in their subject."

I for one refuse to become a teacher because I'm not a martyr, and the payscale is utterly insulting. You get what you pay for. Most of my teachers were pretty incompetent--and I went to one of the better schools. And people skilled enough to teach well can make a lot more money doing almost anything else. The school systems are full of people who are either martyrs or incompetents, and it will stay that way until teachers are paid amounts that are commensurate with the skill required.

If you scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill your teaching positions, don't complain about the quality.
abce
May. 13th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
Competency in a subject van be proven in any of the following ways:
  • Pass a state content assessment

  • Have a bachelor's degree in the subject

  • Complete coursework equivalent to an undergraduate degree in the subject

  • Have a graduate degree in the subject


Hard standard?

According to the article, 33 states have achieved 90%+ of teachers meeting that standard.

And I'll agree with you - competent teachers should be paid more. But as long as the pay scale is based on seniority, and not on merit, there is a problem in the system. See my first response to crs's question, below.
navrins
May. 13th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC)
It's not a hard standard. But a person who can do one of those things (in many subjects) can probably get paid more for less arduous work almost anywhere BUT the public school system, which makes it very hard for the public school system to manage to hire them.

The number of people who are both qualified to teach, say, math or science, and sufficiently interested in teaching to be willing to do it even if it means they don't get paid as much as they could make elsewhere, is small.

Which means either having qualified teachers, but far too few of them, or having enough teachers, most of whom are unqualified. Or offering to pay teachers more.

NCLB's "solution"? Give schools even less money with which to pay teachers.
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)
If these standards are so good why don't excellent private schools bother following them?
abce
May. 13th, 2006 06:35 pm (UTC)
Because excellent provate schools are able to tap into the free market of schoolteachers; and hire good teachers, and fire underperforming teachers. That last item is the most important. As long as the NEA is running our school system, there is no free market of school teachers, so we don't see improvement there. The NCLB teacher quality is an attempt to mandata a bare minimum of competence, to compensate for the inability of the school systems to filter for competence on their own.
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
What happens in towns that don't hire NEA teachers? Do all state laws require municipalities to hire unionized teachers?
abce
May. 13th, 2006 02:37 pm (UTC)
The National Education Association.
kirisutogomen
May. 13th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
I have no idea who you are, but I like you already.
abce
May. 13th, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC)
I was an annoying Guild freshman 17 years ago, which was probably our last interaction. I'm glad to get a fresh start on a positive note.
twe
May. 14th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
You know him. He's Lear's daughter. :)
kirisutogomen
May. 14th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
That reference went so far over my head that I had difficulty tracking it on radar.
twe
May. 16th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)
Cordelia
nathanw
May. 13th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
Before you blame anybody, you have to decide that NCLB is a worthwhile program. That's far from a settled question. Referring to it as something other than NCLB helps, to avoid the insinuation that failing the NCLB program is, in some meaningful way, "leaving children behind".

abce
May. 13th, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)
Actually, the question you should ask, is whether pre-NCLB, children were being left behind. After you address that question, then you can ponder whether NCLB is making that situation worse or better, and whether its long term effects are worth the painful transition it creates.
chenoameg
May. 13th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
For completeness I'll point out that you left out the question "if children are left behind should we do anything about it?" I'm happy to assume that everyone in this discussion believes the answer is "yes" but the math major in me wants to make all of the postulates clear.
damselfrog
May. 13th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
From one of the top states in the counry, to this ... in a matter of years.

it's all about what metric you use; from what i continue to hear about MN schools, the quality has not changed that significantly. measuring school systems based on a simplified quantitative metric -- i can definitely see how some very good school systems would end up ranking poorly (particularly if they wanted to focus on the students learning how to think, rather than devoting a month of more of the standard curriculum to "how to pass $foo standardized test").

i do have to admit, i was one of those bad non-highly-qualified teachers - the state of massachusetts failed to send me my teaching certificate after i passed their standard teaching exam, so i had to teach under a waiver for a year. i have to wonder how many others there were like me, who considered it more important to focus time and energy toward the students than toward trying to pound at the bureaucracy to do what they're supposed to...
willtruncheon
May. 14th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC)
From what I've read, NCLB seems less like an effort to sincerely improve educational quality and more like another cynically named PR policy, in the vein of the "Clear Skies Initiative" and "Healthy Forests", concerned more with taxpayer-subsidized privatization of yet another public concern.

It's underfunded, period. "An independent assessment of the cost of complying with NCLB was reported to the General Assembly in December of 2003. The authors of the report concluded that NCLB will cost school districts $1.491 billion annually representing an 11 percent increase over current total operating budgets. It was further determined that 97 percent of the costs associated with NCLB are unfunded with additional federal funding covering only $44 million of the nearly $1.5 billion in costs." (Ohio Education Association)

It requires schools to increase student's test scores without providing sufficient resources to do so, and then cuts off federal funding when they fail. It encourages students to transfer to private and religious schools, with vouchers paid for with taxpayer dollars. In a time of laissez-faire deregulation of environmental protections, healthcare, and businesses, it applies an absurd regulatory burden on public schools, while showing preferential treatment to privately owned, publicly funded charter schools that operate with almost no regulation at all, many of which (like the Edison Schools) are large, for-profit chains, and limits school districts to choose one curriculum package from a federally developed list of about 6 products. They cannot use the funding for any other purpose. This reinforces an oligopoly of a few large publishing companies, all of whom were contributors to the Bush/Cheney election campaign chest. Gosh, business cronyism from the Bush Administration? Who'd have thought it possible? This would also make it quite a bit easier for the "theory" of Intelligent Design to be incorporated into our public education system nationally, as well as any other ludicrous and religiously prejudicial views that might be espoused by King George, or those special interests astute enough to throw some money his way.

That might be forgiveable if NCLB actually helped children learn more successfully. The preliminary indications are that it has not. Because schools, districts and states are punished if they fail to achieve academic standards they themselves set, the tendency has been to set expectations lower rather than higher. This also encourages student segregation of class and race and ensures that many schools have been pushing out lower-performing students altogether.

Should we set high standards for our teachers? Absolutely. Higher than those we currently have, honestly. Can we do so without providing the resources and adequate pay to ensure that such standards are reachable? Not unless your long-term agenda is a public opinion so soured toward our federal education system that it's eliminated entirely, and you want your children educated in for-profit corporate schools.

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )