Monday, May 19, 2008

More NCLB Controversy

Charles Murray is always controversial. He is also very difficult to argue with. His recent article in New Criterion discusses "educational romanticism."
And so, beginning with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the federal government embarked on a series of major efforts to improve education for disadvantaged children that culminated in 2002 with the No Child Left Behind Act. Surveying that history, an analogy occurred to me that I offer as a speculative proposition: America’s federal education policy as of 2008 is at about the same place that the Soviet Union’s economic policy was in 1990.

HT: Maggie's Farm


Erin said...

Well of course we don't assume children just might not be as smart as we hope. This is the age where every child on the sports team gets a trophy, where children should be sheltered from rather than learn from their mistakes, and where I am criticized for telling them that they are wrong or have failed to understand a concept. I have high school students who expect to receive A's simply for showing up and being nice. They want effort grades and Mommy & Daddy will email me in a heartbeat because it's MY fault the student didn't start working on a project when I assigned it three weeks before it was due. These are your future coworkers, people!

David Foster said...

I'm not very impressed by his argument. Sure, kids have differing intellectual abilities--but can anyone seriously believe that our public schools are so great that they are optimizing each individual's learning within the limits of his abilities?

Analogy: If a power plant manager runs a facility with leaky steam pipes all over the place, and all the boiler controls set to the wrong settings, and you (the owner) complain about his lousy efficiency, are you going to let him use "the laws of thermodynamics" (which set a theoretical maximum on efficiency) as an excuse?

We shouldn't let the "educators" use this kind of excuse, either.

(And regarding Erin's comment: educational administrators should encourage teachers to be hard-nosed about this kind of thing, rather than forcing them to cave in the parental pressure. The extremes of "self-esteem" stuff are destructive to the character of the kids as well as to their intellectual growth)