With NCLB reauthorization up for renewal (newest suggested name by Sens. Lieberman, Landrieu, and Coleman “All Students Can Achieve”), the Aspen Institute is playing a major part in drafting some suggested changes. Again, it mostly more of the same numbers-driven approach to assessment, this time supposedly funding individual state’s data systems to keep track of such numbers. At the same time, a new coalition, NCLB Works, composed of groups like the Business Roundtable and the Education Trust, have made it clear they like the NCLB moniker. It’s important to note that each time the more than 40-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act is reauthorized, a name change usually follows.
However, it is groups like the Education Trust and the Business Roundtable which are doing their finest work in pushing for the hostile takeover of the public schools, ostensibly under the guise of pushing for reauthorization of NCLB. Gerald Bracey offers a well needed response to one of the most often referred to pieces of analysis; international comparisons, and their use as a cudgel to attack the American public school system. Bracey points out that one part of these global education comparison studies that receive little discussion in the yearly hand wringing reports on our failings as a nation to educate our children, is the lack of a level playing field when it comes to poverty. Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust is quoted recently as saying, “Our most affluent kids are getting their lunches eaten by kids in other countries. The system we have has not served our children well. There is no point pouring more federal money into very broken bottles.” Baloney.
Gerald Bracey sums up this research succinctly:
“Thus, for reading and science, the two categories of US schools with the smallest percentages of students living in poverty score higher than even the highest nation, Sweden in reading, Singapore in science. In math, the top US category would be 3rd in the world.
It is only in American schools with 75% of more of their students living in poverty where scores fall below the international average.”