>>Obama Calls for Major Change in Education Law – NYTimes.com
Posted March 14, 2010on:
The best thing that happened to education during the past 100 years was George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Program. It wasn’t perfect because no program as broad as this one could be perfect. There were areas that needed work. I’m not sure yet but President Obama just may be on the right track to correcting some of the problems. The fact that the teachers unions are against his plans is a big PLUS as far as I am concerned! The second thing I really approve about it is the provision that teachers be evaluated and not “helped to become proficient” as in the Bush plan, but simply fired as in the Obama plan. It is about time We the People face up to and demand that incompetent people be gotten rid of. Teachers and doctors seem to be untouchables no matter how bad they are at their jobs.
The administration’s proposals would also rework the law’s teacher-quality provisions by requiring states to develop evaluation procedures to distinguish effective instructors, partly based on whether their students are learning. These would replace the law’s current emphasis on certifying that all teachers have valid credentials, which has produced little except red tape, officials said.
Obama also wants to follow individual students progress regardless of the groups progress. This may lead to outstanding students be given the opportunity to enroll in charter schools or better performing schools and not being held back because they are stuck in a certain “group”.
Under the current law, testing focuses on measuring the number of students who are proficient at each grade level. The administration instead wants to measure each student’s academic growth, regardless of the performance level at which they start.
Under the proposals, schools would also be judged on whether they are closing achievement gaps between poor and affluent students. No sanctions exist now for schools that fail in this area. Under the new proposals, states would be required to intervene even in seemingly high-performing schools in affluent districts where test scores and other indicators identify groups of students who are languishing, administration officials said.
Rewarding high performance has caused school districts to look at around at their best performing schools and follow that plan in order to qualify for more federal dollars. Guess what? Charter schools outperform non-charter schools in almost all cases. (charter schools are public schools but they are independent in how they are operated. In other words they operate like private schools without having the school administration and school board to contend with!) This provision of rewarding the best outcomes is causing states to ramp up their charter schools programs. North Carolina only has 100 Charter Schools at present and of course teachers unions and school boards and administrations are against them. The state legislature just may override these protests to get more money and inadvertently do the best thing possible for our children!
The proposals would require states to use annual tests and other indicators to divide the nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools into several groups: some 10,000 to 15,000 high-performing schools that could receive rewards or recognition; some 10,000 failing or struggling schools requiring varying degrees of vigorous state intervention; about 5,000 schools that would be required to narrow unacceptably wide achievement gaps; and perhaps 70,000 or so schools in the middle that would be encouraged to figure out on their own how to improve.
“No Child Left Behind” focus on proficiency in reading and math. Teacher complained they were teaching to the test. My thought was well better teaching to the test than teaching nothing! If a child can read he will be able to do well any subject; if he can’t read you can push all kinds of history books and lectures at him all day and half the night and he still will not understand or know history. The same goes for math. If he can not add, subtract, multiply and divide even keeping a check book will be beyond him. I am not sure Obama’s goal is any better. It will allow teacher to teach as they want but in order to show improvement on the tests they will still have to spend more time and effort on the basics.
President Obama would replace the law’s requirement that every American child reach proficiency in reading and math, which administration officials have called utopian, with a new national target that could prove equally elusive: that all students should graduate from high school prepared for college and a career.
Guess we will have to wait and see what happens here. It seems to me so far that regardless of the administrations touting a total revamping of No Child Left Behind Obama is merely closing some of the loop holes that have needed corrected. And again I say with glee: the teacher’s unions are against it!