February 16, 2003


Thousands of Schools May Run Afoul of New Law: Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, many public schools may find themselves designated as "failing," allowing parents to transfer their children elsewhere. (SAM DILLON, 2/15/03, NY Times)
The formula used to identify underperforming schools is so unwieldy that President Bush described a Michigan elementary school he visited last year as "excelling" just three months before it was declared below standard.

The law says that every racial and demographic group in each school must score higher on standardized tests every year; if any group fails to advance for two consecutive years, a school is labeled "needing improvement." A school that does not shed the label by improving students' scores may have its principal and teachers replaced and face other sanctions, including closing. [...]

The goal of the law is to improve the achievements of all students, but especially those of poor and minority students. In recent weeks the top education officials of many states have complained that the federal regulations prescribing how states must assess academic quality are overly punitive and inflexible and will eventually lead to labeling a majority of America's 90,000 public schools as failing.

That does not worry Eugene W. Hickok, the federal under secretary of education, who has been negotiating with the state authorities to put the law into effect.

"This is going to force educators to rethink what it means to be a successful school," Mr. Hickok said in an interview. "A lot of, quote, successful suburban school districts with high test scores and nice campuses for the first time may find that they have populations of students that are experiencing an achievement gap."

Can it really have taken the Times this long to figure out that the education bill was a Trojan Horse. Ted Kennedy was complaining, even before the ink of George W. Bush's signature was dry, that Democrats had been duped into passing a bill that would effectively create a nationwide voucher system for public schools and lay the groundwork for wholesale firing of teachers. That's the point of the whole exercise, and why conservatives are being so dimwitted when they criticize the law. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2003 4:37 PM
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