One of the groups that helped put together No Child Left Behind is not happy with the way that W’s Education Department is implementing parts of the law.
Citing research showing that the quality of instruction is the single most important element that schools can change to improve learning, Ross Weiner, policy director of the Education Trust, a nonprofit group based in Washington, criticized the department as having a lack of leadership. Mr. Weiner said it was largely allowing schools to avoid making information public that would reveal the concentration of the best-prepared teachers in the wealthiest schools.
Mr. Weiner faulted the Education Department as failing to use the law to bring better qualified teachers into classrooms with the most seriously disadvantaged students. While the law provides $3 billion for states to raise the quality of classroom teachers, the department has at the same time defined "highly qualified" teachers in ways that are less demanding than many state laws. Under the federal law, for example, an uncertified teacher enrolled in an alternative certification program is considered highly qualified.
I love the line about "reveal the concentration of the best-prepared teachers in the wealthiest schools" like that was some dark secret. The best teachers are like the best in any other field – they can often choose where they want to work. Why wouldn’t they want to work in well equipped, safe schools where the kids are backed by parents who are usually more supportive of their kids’ education?
So how do you get better teachers into the schools with those "underperforming" kids? According to W, by testing the hell out of the kids and then, when enough of them don’t pass, fail the school. Then give them vouchers to move to private schools (if parents can afford the balance of the tuition) which don’t have to follow the same teacher quality "standards" as public schools. Or give the same tests. Was this law written by Dr. Suess?