[MKE - Indymedia] nclb bone
pryz1 at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 13 09:35:14 PDT 2005
(Published in educationnews.org commentary April 13, 2005)
Spellings offers a bone to quiet NCLB barking
By Daniel Pryzbyla
With Cowboy Capitalism proposals failing on the Social Security front, NCLB corporate educrats couldnt afford another political upheaval with state school superintendents too. Quick. Toss em a bone, Margaret!
Media moguls scurried about to find some leftover reporters from their daily, non-stop coverage at the Vaticans crisis center and on President Bushs countrywide tour to find some blessings for privatizing Social Security. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was waiting for the phone call to affirm the choice of No Child Left Behind bone to toss after the state of Connecticut had dared to challenge the NCLB law in court. With lawyers and lawsuits piling up against special education dysfunctions, she had a gut feeling it would be in the Special Ed Bones secret NCLB file.
Props have become Hollywood components of Karl Rove, her bosss political strategist. After the successful invasion of Iraq, it was critical to immediately pull down Husseins statue in Baghdad before President Bush landed in the jet on the aircraft carrier toting the banner, Mission Accomplished. After the phone call confirming her hunch, she needed a patriotic setting to deliver the special education bone. For certain, not the Department of Education fortress. Some proposed New Haven, Connecticut for an in your face tactic, but that was ruled out. More suggestions. Ah, yes perfect! Mount Vernon, VA! In her April 7, 2005 prepared speech Raising Achievement: A new path for No Child Left Behind to education officials and advocates at the meeting, she began, Its good to be with you here at the home of George Washington or, as President Bush calls him, the first George W. Its a great place to talk about our ongoing American Revolution in education.
She reminded attendees it was actually the second time state school chiefs had met in Mount Vernon. Their first gathering was 3 years ago, just 1 day after President Bush signed the NCLB education act. Ray Simon, who had introduced her, said it had made such an impression back then, they should return. His suggestion had won out. So, if you have complaints about the bus ride out here, said Spellings, See him! Maybe yellow school buses, too, for the NCLB education prop? If so, it wasnt disclosed. Nor was anything about Connecticuts lawsuit or the state. Its original name Quinnehtukqut came from Mohegan Native Americans meaning long river place or beside the long river. It was the 5th state to join the union January 9, 1788. During the American Revolution, George Washington called it the provision state because of supplies to his army by Gov. Jonathan Trumbull the only Colonial governor to support the cause of American Independence from Great Britain. Patriot-spy Nathan Hale, as he was about to be hanged by the British, said, I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.
So, of the 50 states moaning and groaning behind closed doors about the NCLB draconian high-stakes testing on an annual basis and its severe consequences, including funding shortfalls to implement the education act Quinnehtukqut officially designated The Constitution State in 1959 had stepped forward April 5, 2005 to formally challenge educations Queen Spellings.
The federal governments approach with this law is illegal and unconstitutional, Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said in an interview with New York Times reporter Sam Dillon in its April 6, 2005 edition. There is burgeoning unhappiness among both Republicans and Democrats. The dissatisfaction is felt across the country and is across the board, politically. So, I can pretty much call any of my colleagues and get an earful. Legal scholars said that previous lawsuits brought against the federal government over so-called unfounded mandates had had mixed results, wrote Dillon. But Connecticuts suit could gain traction because the No Child Left Behind law includes a passage, sponsored by Republicans during the Clinton administration, that forbids federal officials to require states to spend their own money to carry out the federal policies outlined in the law. Connecticut alleges it will have to spend $41.6 million that federal funding doesnt provide.
Similar to many other states, Connecticut has tested students in grades 4, 6, and 8 for many years. State education officials, wrote Associated Press reporter Noreen Gillespie in the April 11, 2005 issue of Duluth News Tribune, say that they already know minority and poor children dont perform as well as their wealthy, white peers, and that additional tests arent going to tell them more. State education commissioner Betty Sternberg has not wavered in her desire to test every other year, saying, Money will be better spent on our preschool and programs proven to boost achievement.
In her 3,600 word prepared speech at Mt. Vernon, Spellings previewed several pounds of previously baked education ham before finally getting to the bone. Proclaiming a new flexibility in the law, she stated, The first example of this new flexibility this workable, sensible approach concerns students with cognitive disabilities. The new policy, said Spellings, builds on current regulations, which allow states to give students with the most significant cognitive disabilities up to 1 percent of them alternate tests based on alternate achievement standards. She also pointed out these students will continue to be included in the accountability system because we know that, otherwise, they risk being ignored, as was often the case before NCLB. To accomplish this, she said the department is going to direct $14 million for support. In addition, Were developing a comprehensive tool kit based upon the best research
to help states identify and assess students with disabilities.
However, during interviews with the news media, NCLBs focal point on students with cognitive disabilities was off the radar screen. Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and George Miller (D-California), chair and committee senior Democrat of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued a joint statement Friday, April 8, 2005 on Spellingss announcement without any reference to cognitive disabilities whatsoever. To make matters more confusing, Spellings drifted into argumentative discourse without explaining NCLB flexibility was intended for cognitive disabilities. Parts of a boiling interview with Ray Suarez on the PBS television program News Hour with Jim Lehrer on Thursday evening April 7, 2005 appeared two days later in a Hartford Courant newspaper story written by Robert A Frahm. I think its regrettable, frankly, when the achievement gap between African American and Anglo kids in Connecticut is quite large. And I think its unfortunate for those families and those students that they (Connecticut) are trying to find a loophole to get out of the law as opposed to attending to the needs of those kids.
Adding more disturbance, she continued, I think its un-American
for us to take the attitude that African American children in Connecticut living in inner cities are not going to be able to compete, are not going to be prepared to compete in this world and are not going to be educated to high levels. Thats the notion, the soft bigotry of low expectations, as the president calls it, that No Child Left Behind rejects. Later, Frahm wrote that the state is also one of many states that have lodged complaints about other provisions of the law, including its requirements for testing special education students, but Spellings announced this week that the U.S. Department of Education will allow more flexibility in testing those students in states that are committed to the No Child Left Behind Act and that show academic progress. Well, that she did sort of. But if anything should have been outlined specifically and clearly in her prepared text, it was cognitive disabilities but not interspersed with rambling NCLB cheerleading goals.
Instead, her inflammatory remarks caught most attention. I thought it was a low blow to say that we have low expectations just because the state is saying the extra testing is cumbersome, said Reginald Mayo, superintendent of schools in New Haven, where minority students make up 90 percent of enrollment. I dont see anything un-American about someone asking for money to pay for the mandate. Not surprisingly, the headline of the story was Officials deny they are Un-American in education policy.
Public school districts throughout the country that have complained about hard-nosed NCLB demands at any time past or present, funded or not will now be wondering if Queen Spellings will toss them a bone. Will they have to apologize first? Say bow-wow in a friendly bark?
Karl, do we have any doghouse props?
pryz1 at earthlink.net
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