Nov 7, 2013

Problems With The "No Child Left Behind" Act In 3 Interviews

The following interviews, and the information below the interviews, provides a great overview of the problems with the 'No Child Left Behind' act plus the problems with the attempts to try and "fix" it. 

Interview 1

EXCLUSIVE - MELODY BARNES EXTENDED INTERVIEW PT. 1 12/14/2011In this unedited, extended interview, outgoing White House director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes reviews her work in education reform.


1. Congress wouldnt move against the 'no child left behind act' i.e. they like it!

2. The focus is on 'race to the top' = goal is to make students 'college and career prepared' focusing on better teachers and want to bring more parents in and give parents more flexibility

Focus for the education department is about working within the already set plan as the only way forward despite the evidence.

Interview 2

EXCLUSIVE - ARNE DUNCAN EXTENDED INTERVIEW PT. 1 2/16/2012 In this unedited, extended interview, Arne Duncan explains Race to the Top and its anticipated long-term effects on America's education system.


1. Once again, congress refuses to change the broken 'no child left behind act' so the new 'race to the top initiative is meant to alleviate its problems, i.e. its meant as a fix to a broken plan

2. Amazing creativity coming from States Stewart: Teachers say the structure set up is more confining because they have to teach to the test for grant money. The result is that this system is frustrating.

[Again the focus is on fixing a structure that's already broken. Problem is the Education Department is beginning to think that this broken system with variations/waivers is the way out]

3. At 7 minutes: 'Our college graduation rates have dropped dramatically and we have to increase this' [With a broken system!]

Interview 3

DIANE RAVITCH 3/3/2011 Diane Ravitch believes education reform should focus on getting children out of poverty, not finding the bad teachers.


1. To educate you need to create curiosity and interest. People hate testing. How easy is it to teach a kid who is bored or hates his or her school work? [Answer: Give them Ritalin to shut them up which, by the way, can cause brain damage]

2. "Schools have been turned into testing factories" [Same Ritalin article (above) explains the new school format as a 'war on kids']

3. Finland is doing really well in schooling and it doesn't use standardized tests. Its governmental, strong teachers unions, teachers are encouraged to be independent  Teachers design thier own tests. [i.e. we have an example of a system that works and STILL we use a broken education plan!]

4. Teachers across the country are demoralized (getting blamed for all test score problems) thus this is a great way to get rid of talented teachers. ALL the problems of schools are being blamed on teachers![Bad educational policy was blamed solely on the teachers by Bush and it continues with the GOP]

Book Review: NY Times: Choice never fulfilled its promises, Ravitch argues, because its advocates spent more time talking about how education should be delivered than examining what education is. With so little effort devoted to the promotion of a sound curriculum, voucher schools, like those established in Milwaukee, turned out to offer few if any gains for those who attended them. As for charter schools, they have skimmed off the most motivated students without producing consistently better results than traditional public schools. She is skeptical of the charter movement’s free-market model of competition and choice. “At the very time that the financial markets were collapsing, and as regulation of financial markets got a bad name,” Ravitch points out, “many of the leading voices in American education assured the public that the way to educational rejuvenation was through deregulation.” Instead of treating markets as a panacea, she argues, we should look at the data, the latest of which shows that charter schools as a whole do not do better than traditional schools. Given that result, we should be working harder to preserve the benefits of community and continuity that neighborhood schools offer. Testing experienced much the same fate as vouchers. Knowing that their students would be tested and that the results would be used to evaluate which schools would be rewarded, educators began teaching to the tests, at the expense of sound curriculum. But educational testing, Ravitch shows, is inexact, roughly the way public opinion polling is. Far from holding schools accountable, testing resulted in massive cynicism. Meanwhile the level of education received by many students remained “disastrously low.” Ravitch points to a 2009 study sponsored by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago showing that the increases in the performance of the city’s eighth graders in math and reading were due mostly to changes in testing procedures, and that in any case such gains evaporated by the time those students reached high school. Some may ask whether we should trust someone who was once widely viewed as a conservative but now actually says nice things about teachers’ unions. But for all the attention paid to Ravitch’s change of heart, she has always been less an ideologue than a critic of educational fads, whether the more touchy-feely forms of progressive education popular in the 1960s and ’70s or the new nostrums of choice and testing. Ravitch now supports ideas associated with the left not because she is on the left. She does so for the simple reason that choice and testing had their chance and failed to deliver.

 January 4, 2010 Research is first to find causal link between NCLB and increased student achievement EVANSTON, Ill. --- A new study by Northwestern University researchers for the first time establishes a causal link between the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and improvements in student achievement. The research finds that NCLB raised math achievement by six to nine months over seven years for the nation's fourth graders and by four to 12 months for eighth graders. It did not find statistically significant effects for fourth-grade reading achievement. Eighth-grade reading was not assessed because adequate data were unavailable. "Our study is the first to confirm that NCLB has a statistically significant positive effect on students' fourth- and eighth- grade math achievement," said Thomas Cook, sociology professor in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) and co-author of the study. Only a handful of studies to date have examined the effects of No Child Left Behind -- currently the centerpiece of U.S. education policy -- and study results have been mixed.
[Note: By 2012, some teachers have found creative ways to deal with the horrible constirctions imposed by the 'no child left behind act']

‘No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving the scores of blacks and Hispanics, according to results of a federal test considered to be the nation’s best measure of long-term trends in math and reading proficiency. Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased, but so did those of white students, leaving the achievement gap stubbornly wide, despite President George W. Bush’s frequent assertions that the No Child law was having a dramatic effect.

Growth scores give schools No Child Left Behind alternative The Clark County School District isn't a success under No Child Left Behind, but that's not the full story, said Ken Turner, special assistant to the super­intendent. Clark County students learn at a rate on par with other Nevada schools, according to the growth model's tracking of fourth-graders through eighth-graders in math and reading. The model compares students' annual test scores from 2009-10 to 2010-11. The state plans to join others in applying to the U.S. Department of Education in September to replace No Child Left Behind measures with the growth model, a "monumental shift" in education, said Keith Rheault, Nevada superintendent of public schools. But the growth model remains a work in progress. At this time, the state growth model shows no schools as passing or failing because that bar hasn't been set yet. Information from the pilot program just shows the different rates of learning achieved at public schools. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said that won't be allowed to continue if the model is to replace No Child Left Behind. Schools must be held accountable. those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it A conservative effort emerged to remove accurate information from many textbooks because it was 'gloomy', i.e. lies (which automatically indoctrinate children) became preferred to actual facts.

The American Textbook Wars: The Revised Edition As chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Cheney had once embraced their work but then found that radicals had gone too far in producing a gloomy, “politically correct” view of the national past. It only helped that Cheney made her public break with the standards in the Wall Street Journal, and that her husband was a gruff former secretary of defense. Interpreted differently, FitzGerald’s theory has served different groups well. To many liberals, reforms begun in the 1960s represented an effort by blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, and others to reclaim their past from a national narrative that distorted or ignored their experiences. Scholars and teachers who took part could then cast themselves as successful rebels for the causes of social justice and historical truth. To conservatives who rallied behind Cheney, these same minority groups had finally “hijacked” the national story. The price of a misguided effort at inclusion was a fragmented and incoherent history curriculum. Opponents of the standards could then lump questions of history teaching into a broader assessment of that misbegotten decade. That assessment, still with us today, is captured succinctly by a promotional line for Woods’s Politically Incorrect Guide, posted on his publisher’s website: “[T]he liberalism of the 1960s discouraged all the right things and encouraged all the wrong ones.”

Textbooks and History Standards: An Historical Overview Meanwhile, in 1995,James W. Loewen, a liberal sociologist and professor, published his best-known work, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (1995). The book reflected his two-year survey of 12 leading high school textbooks of American History including the venerable The American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey and David M. Kennedy, and Triumph of the American Nation by Paul Lewis Todd and Merle Curti. Loewen wrote that his study revealed a dull Eurocentric history presented with a mix of bland optimism, blind patriotism, and misinformation. Loewen wrote, “We need to produce Americans of all social classes and racial backgrounds and of both genders who command the power of history—the ability to use one's understanding of the past to legitimize one's actions in the present. Then the past will seriously inform Americans as individuals and as a nation, instead of serving as a source of weary clich├ęs." His book offered ideas on how teachers can build lesson plans about difficult topics such as the American Indian experience, slavery, and race relations. In the revised 2007 edition of Lies, Loewen updated his earlier findings and added comments on other books. He concluded that history textbooks still repeat lies. He stressed that history texts must challenge students with actual chronological history, and with images and comments from diverse viewpoints, leaving each student to come to their own conclusions.


Better textbooks need to be combined with better teaching methods in an environment that encourages learning and creativity in education NOT focusing everything on test scores with grants(money) as the incentive.

Schools are about educating children NOT creating a corporate work environment.

How education has historically worked effectively (and the learning method used) is explained here.

Learning & Education

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