Fairy Tales

The Post gives Margaret Spelling, W’s Secretary of Education, some space this morning to tell her stories. It’s a good thing the piece is on the opinion page since there are very few facts in what she has to say.

There’s no question that the law [No Child Left Behind] has been revolutionary.

There is nothing "revolutionary" about testing the hell out of kids. It puts the primary emphasis on meeting the minimum standards for everybody with the result that little time and few resources are available to go beyond.

Just as the Brown v. Board of Education decision moved to end unequal education because of race, the federal government can now help ensure that states provide a quality education to every student.

I would have no problem if the purpose of the law really was to provide a quality education for every student. However, this one-size-fits-all law lumps all students, all teachers, all schools into the same basket. Anyone who has been in a school for more than a photo op knows that there are plenty of variations in the way students learn which must be addressed as unique.

That’s why each and every state has developed its own accountability plan: No two states are alike, and neither are their plans.

Except that any state plan which doesn’t fit the DOE’s narrow few of "accountability" has been rejected. The words may be slightly different but the plans come from the federal cookie cutter. And any state leaders who call for changes to the law are strong armed back into line.

In states where the law has been embraced, it is working.

Name one. Either a state where the law has been "embraced" or one where it’s "working". Please define "working" while you’re at it. If you mean standardized test scores are rising, that’s not the same as saying students are getting a better education.

Now we must expand the promise of No Child Left Behind to our high schools.

Why not? By the time the kids get to ninth grade they will have had six years of non-stop test preparation. They should be ready for three more.

This law is a bipartisan expression of the fact that we as a nation no longer find it acceptable to let some children remain in the shadows, without the skills to achieve the American Dream.

It’s an expression of the federal government trying to make all schools conform to their simplistic, narrow view of what makes a good education. The biggest problem is that the basic assumption of the law is that the current structure of most American schools is still good. It is not – and all the simple minded testing is not going to change that.

Update: Education At The Brink has their take on the Spellings op-ed piece, offering some angles I missed.