Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Better Late Than Never-Maybe Not

No Child Left Behind expired seven years ago. It has continued to be enforced although major exceptions and allowances by the Feds have pretty much chipped away at its most offensive aspects.
Finally the Congress has decided to address the issue. But since this is our current Congress, its first issue was to address image over substance. No Child Left Behind has a terrible branding problem. There have been lots of jokes from the beginning.  No Child With A Behind to reflect the huge testing requirements.  No Teacher With A Behind to acknowledge the adequate yearly progress expectations for all kids but especially for several sub-groups such as children at risk, minority groups, children with disabilities and those who speak English as a second language.  One of the first bits of foolishness to go was the promise that all students would be on grade level by 2014. I for one was waiting to celebrate the miracle that never came.
The Senate and the House have approached the branding issue separately. The Senate has the Every Child Achieves Act (SB1177).  The House is working on HR 5, Student Success Act.  Both bills
leave in the heavy testing obligations. We still think testing equals accountability.  However there is considerable flexibility on the kind of test. There are also few to no consequences from the Feds for bad testing results.
The Senate bill does require federal monitoring and reporting by states, the House bill not so much. Most important to the President is that neither bill identifies the sub groups for special monitoring. An amendment in the Senate that would have done that has failed.
What is really interesting is that while 37 civil rights and education organizations supported the amendment, the National Education Association, essentially the teachers union, did not support the amendment. Exposing yet again the myth that the Association values the education of children when it clearly is all about protecting the backs and benefits of teachers.
The President has said he could support the Senate Bill but not the House version.
And to add to the stew, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the requirement in many states that all teachers must pay a union service fee if they choose not to be a member. A victory by the plaintiffs would seriously weaken the NEA, but that is a blog for another day.
The fight to re-establish a national education bill is far from over and far from resolution.
Yet come this fall teachers and kids will go back to school and continue to muddle through, some on grade level, some below and others above.  Makes you wonder why we are spending all that money on Congress.

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