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Have We Learned Something Good From the Department of Education?

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Haven't We Learned Something Good From the Department of Education?

Posted by Christine Luhnow on February 9, 2012 at 8:06 AM

teacherThe question of whether the U.S. Dept. of Education should be eliminated is probably not a question that should be answered by looking to the "top" of the pyramid, where getting rid of it makes a sexy soundbite in this 2012 election, but to the "bottom" where students, teachers and parents are experiencing its effects. 

Right now, it's playing out as the Republican crusaders are going to halt that out of control Democrat Barack Obama in his tracks before he can cross that line between federal and states rights by using the Department of Education to resolve the impending student loan crisis.  Obama lost me when he thought it would be a good idea for the feds to get into the banking, healthcare and auto industries.  And I don't know that it's appropriate for the feds to resolve the student loan crisis. But shuttering the department is election year politics and fails to acknowledge that the Department of Education and the "No Child left Behind" act have had bi-partisan support in the past. And specific pieces of it were even voted for or praised by the Republican candidates themselves, including Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Most importantly, test scores are rising.

It was a Democrat, President Jimmy Carter, who brought the Dept. of Education back to cabinet level status. But it was Republican George W. Bush who gave it teeth when he helped usher in "No Child left Behind." (That's right folks, a Republican who was concerned that students, especially minorities, were the victims of soft expectations in districts where bad teachers and inadequate funding were often to blame for low test scores.) "No Child left Behind," is an Act of Congress passed by a bi-partisan group spearheaded by Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. John Boehner of Ohio that forces schools to meet certain standards to have access to federal education funds. As an aside, i would like to point out that Boehner and Kennedy are as far right a Republican and as far left a Democrat as we've seen. Proof that our politicians can work together when they try hard enough.  (Hey D.C.! Is anybody listening?) 

As a parent, the Dept. of Education and No Child left Behind allow you to get your school's report card by going to websites like the following: http://www.greatschools.org/improvement/quality-teaching/61-no-child-left-behind.gs. You can also get free help with reading for your child, transfer to a different school if the school is failing or help teachers get funding for retraining. You could argue that these laws put control, not in the federal government's hands but in the hands of parents, students and teachers.

According to Wikipedia, most states have seen test scores rise since "No Child Left Behind" was enacted. The Department of Education points to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, released in July 2005, showing improved student achievement in reading and math:[13]

  • More progress was made by nine-year-olds in reading in the last five years than in the previous 28 years combined.
  • America's nine-year-olds posted the best scores in reading (since 1971) and math (since 1973) in the history of the report. America's 13-year-olds earned the highest math scores the test ever recorded.
  • Reading and math scores for black and Hispanic nine-year-olds reached an all-time high.
  • Achievement gaps in reading and math between white and black nine-year-olds and between white and Hispanic nine-year-olds are at an all-time low.
  • Forty-three states and the District of Columbia either improved academically or held steady in all categories (fourth- and eighth-grade reading and fourth- and eighth-grade math).

In closing, I would say that, like Planned Parenthood, this is a wonderful issue for Republicans to show their concern for those whose access to quality education is limited because of race, income and geography. Every child should know how to read. And the states and local controls weren't enough. Thank God one Republican was married to a school teacher who cared. Way to go, W! It would be nice if you and the party got credit for caring and if the current crop of candidates could reflect the positive impact Republicans have had on student test scores.

by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 8:08 AM
Replies (11-14):
mem82
by Platinum Member on Feb. 10, 2012 at 9:41 AM
1 mom liked this

I agree. I worked at a teacher supply store with nothing but teachers, waaay back when NCLB was first drafted. These ladies came to the store everyday talking about how cute so and so was or what so and so said that was funny. They liked their jobs. By the end of the year, the teachers were really disgusted and disillusioned.  Especially since they got punished for not making the tests scores but were screwed if they happened to have a slower group of children. 10 years later, I have a teacher that won't move my daughter into gifted classes because she needed Missie's test scores to lift the classroom's average test score so she could keep her job. That's not fair to her or the kids.

Quoting TigerofMu:

Ad while the article is very well written in some places, it's very obvious this author has a strong bias.  If you've actually lived under NCLB, it's like trying to teach with your hands tied behind your back and your mouth taped shut.  Sure, there were great thoughts behind it, but it was sadly lacking in the actual implementation.  Schools were ordered, threatened, cajoled and pushed into tiny boxes, promised funding to meet what for some were nearly impossible goals, never given the promised funding, and required to jump through the hoops anyway!  Yes, I think there should be accountability.  Yes, I think there should be standards.  Yes, our neighborhood school is crappy, hence my children aren't in it.  But I know that there is another side to that story, and she's not telling it.




kmbphx
by on Feb. 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Gee, thats good to hear since I know several teachers and all they do is complain how "No Child Left Behind" is keeping them from really teaching, since all they teach is the test, and how it was never funded.
kittyfaery
by on Feb. 11, 2012 at 12:52 AM
I agree too. The biggest reason we are switching to homeschooling is because we feel like our son is getting lost in the cracks. Since he is above or at grade level, it doesn't matter if he is reaching his potential. He has become so lax about learning because he is never challenged. And I can't blame the teachers. What are they supposed to do when they have 33 kids and no help and are under all this pressure. Maybe it would have worked better if schools had better funding and smaller class sizes.


Quoting mem82:

I agree. I worked at a teacher supply store with nothing but teachers, waaay back when NCLB was first drafted. These ladies came to the store everyday talking about how cute so and so was or what so and so said that was funny. They liked their jobs. By the end of the year, the teachers were really disgusted and disillusioned.  Especially since they got punished for not making the tests scores but were screwed if they happened to have a slower group of children. 10 years later, I have a teacher that won't move my daughter into gifted classes because she needed Missie's test scores to lift the classroom's average test score so she could keep her job. That's not fair to her or the kids.

Quoting TigerofMu:

Ad while the article is very well written in some places, it's very obvious this author has a strong bias.  If you've actually lived under NCLB, it's like trying to teach with your hands tied behind your back and your mouth taped shut.  Sure, there were great thoughts behind it, but it was sadly lacking in the actual implementation.  Schools were ordered, threatened, cajoled and pushed into tiny boxes, promised funding to meet what for some were nearly impossible goals, never given the promised funding, and required to jump through the hoops anyway!  Yes, I think there should be accountability.  Yes, I think there should be standards.  Yes, our neighborhood school is crappy, hence my children aren't in it.  But I know that there is another side to that story, and she's not telling it.



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Boobah
by Nikki :) on Feb. 12, 2012 at 3:31 PM
Exactly! Haha!

Quoting oredeb:

 not to trust them with our kids?

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