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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Education's Sleight of Hand

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or No Child Left Behind, is flawed; however, its purpose was to make educational policies and practices more transparent and to make educators accountable to taxpayers for their performance.  There’s the rub.  The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are aghast at the prospect of transparency.  Apparently, they have much to fear if taxpayers learn what they are getting for their money.  As for accountability, they cower like Dracula threatened with a cross at the very thought of it.  Don’t even mention standards or competition.

NCLB was up for re-authorization when Theftocrats controlled the House, Senate, and the White house.  They did nothing, and the flaws in it remain uncorrected, despite objections from Democrats.  This article in The Christian Science Monitor reveals that Arne Duncan, head of the federal Department of Indoctrination, plans to take matters into his own hands by issuing waivers to it.  Of paramount concern to Arne and the Educrats is that NCLB requires 

all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, among other things. 
As that deadline approaches with no sign of the benchmark being met – and as more and more schools are labeled as failing as a result – many states and districts have been clamoring for relief from the sanctions imposed by NCLB for schools that fail to meet their targets.

Duncan advocates accountability—for the term to be meaningful, it must require comparison to a standard—then, he advocates flexibility in meeting those standards.  This fraud is equivalent to Bill Clinton’s flexible ethics.  The atomic weight of gold is a standard; maybe, sort of, and nearly are weaseling.

Author Amanda Paulson speculates that one part of NCLB that Duncan is almost certain to waive is the requirement that failing schools offer school choice options to students.  What a shock; he opposes provisions that would lessen educrats’ stranglehold on education by forcing competition with private education opportunities.

Duncan claimed that 80% of schools will be judged failures if the NCLB standard remains in effect; therefore, he wants to hide the measuring stick.  His desperation to bury the problem reveals that education is a mess.  In “Different Decisions,” Thomas Sowell compares public and private sector methods and results of producing products for consumers.

Sowell points out that when banks foreclose on property, they sell it for whatever they can manage and get out from under it quickly.  They do this because their expertise is banking, not real estate.  Public schools offer a stark contrast.  The author ponders why schools are using their time to indoctrinate kindergartners and fourth graders with politically correct attitudes about sex. 

Anyone familiar with the low standards and mushy notions in the schools and departments of education that turn out our public school teachers might think that these teachers would have all they can do to make American children competent in reading, writing and math.  Anyone familiar with how our children stack up with children from other countries in basic education would be painfully aware that American children lag behind children in countries that spend far less per pupil than we do.  In other words, teachers and schools that are failing to provide the basics of education are branching out into all sorts of other areas, where they have even less competence.

If bankers lose money by dabbling in areas outside their expertise, stockholders fire them.  Teachers do not face commensurate consequences in return for ineptitude.  Only Florida and Alaska have meaningful performance appraisals for teachers.

Schools are just one government institution that takes on tasks for which they have no expertise or even competence.  Congress is the most egregious example.  Having spent years ruining the housing markets with their interference, leading to a housing meltdown that has taken the whole economy down with it, politicians have now moved on into micro-managing automobile companies and medical care.

Government schools operate in the model of the former Soviet Union, and like the USSR, it is a failed experiment whose effectiveness has ended. 

May your gods be with you.     

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