Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 21, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

NO SCHOOL LEFT SUCCESSFUL....Speaking on matters educational, Diane Patterson sayeth:

The entire mission of "No Child Left Behind" is to eventually label every single school in this nation as "failing"it's a backdoor way of forcing vouchers or privatization or whatever the hell they want this time.

Now, there are at least a couple of reasons for thinking Diane has this pegged exactly right. The first has to do with the nature of the program itself. For starters, it mandates that each state has to set standards for student achievement, and by 2014 every single student must meet those standards. Any school with less than 100% success is deemed to be failing. What's more, even in the period between now and 2014, while pass rates are "only" 80 or 90 percent and we're still working our way toward the El Dorado of 100%, there's an absurd concoction of thinly sliced categories mandated by the act, and failure in any one category marks the offending school as a failure. It's pretty obvious that there are a suspiciously large number of ways to fail, and as the years go by the number of "failing" schools will slowly increase to 100%.

Second, it's the kind of devious thing the Bushies would do, isn't it?

But on the other hand, wasn't Teddy Kennedy one of the sponsors of the bill? And a bunch of other Democrats too? I know that they've since taken issue with the lack of funding for NCLB, but they must have agreed with the basic testing regime in the first place, right? And no amount of funding in the world would ever have allowed schools to meet the kinds of targets it mandates.

So what's the deal here? It certainly sounds like a voucher-fueled Trojan horse to me, but then why did Teddy co-sponsor it? Was he just figuring it would provide a nice pot of money in the here-and-now and the standards would eventually end up being rejiggered anyway? Did he get snookered?

Or what?

UPDATE: Oh yeah, and even though I've written about the "Texas Miracle" before, this Village Voice article that Diane points to is a nice summary of the chicanery that went into it. Read it.

Kevin Drum 7:19 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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