It is time for the United States to leave behind the failures of our educational system which have resulted in lower ratings compared to other industrial nations. If change is to be made, we must remove the bureaucrats from education. Instead, educators and students must be given the greatest voice in reforming our broken education system.This one is for the Democrats: congratulations, you won the election. Now that the post-election euphoria is wearing off, have you taken a look at Obama’s cabinet? The two-year campaign of President Barack Obama touted change, especially in education. He promised time and time again to reform the lamentable No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
The first order of business: assign Arne Duncan as the Secretary of Education.
Who? Duncan is most decidedly not an educator. He’s a lawyer. But Duncan has this extraordinary qualification: he’s Obama’s pick-up basketball buddy from Hyde Park. That’s not to say Duncan hasn’t been around in educational positions. Chicago Boss Richie Daley put this guy in charge of the horror show called Chicago Public Schools, where Duncan turned a bad system into a very bad system. Obama was hardly oblivious to the train wreck associated with Duncan; he was one of the few local Chicago officials who refused to send their kids to Duncan’s public schools. The Obamas sent Sasha and Malia to the Laboratory School, where Duncan’s methods are derided as dangerously ludicrous.
Why have no red flags been raised over him as Secretary of Education? Simple, he has the backing of a large amount of Republicans who brought NCLB. He implemented their policies religiously in Chicago. The education system comprised of testing, testing, and more testing. Teaching has been removed from the equation. When tests went badly, the solution was to push the low-test-score kids to drop out of school. If the pattern continues, harass and attack their teachers, and eventually we fire them. The program promoted by Duncan forces teachers to dedicate classroom time to merely drilling in low-end skills. The purpose of such systems is to create a future class of worker-drones. Add in some computer training, and voila! Millions of lower-income kids are trained on the cheap to function, not to think.
Should we accept a Secretary of Commerce or Treasury who had a lack of expertise, lack of accomplishment, lack of a degree in the field found? Then why have we consistently accepted the assault on education by the radical Right? NCLB was developed and driven by politicians, not educators. Almost none of the experts knowledgeable about the negative effects the legislation would have on the education of poor children was invited to testify about NCLB before either the House or Senate.
Any real change will not occur in education until NCLB is scrapped. Research has systematically show that NCLB has not significantly improved reading and math achievement scores, and it has not helped narrow achievement gaps. This law has actually shortchanged schools that serve predominantly disadvantaged and minority students, because the law relies on sanctions rather than assistance. The racial and socioeconomic achievement gap in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and math scores persists.
We now use socially acceptable catch phrases such as “low achievement” and “underperforming students” to justify imposing a second-class curriculum. The public schools encompass militaristic “tough love” discipline polices and stripped-down programs on majority-minority schools. The biggest proponent of such degrading terms is now our Secretary of Education; subsequently, the biggest enemies of quality public education are the ones running our schools.
Can the bureaucrats run schools better than professional educators? There are 500 billion dollars at stake yearly for K-12 education in the United States. Decisions will not be made by those whose field of expertise is learning. It will be made by those whose field of expertise is power. For too long, politicians have used education as leverage for their own political advancement. Left in the ruins are poor, lower class students who are being denied an education equal to that of their peers.
What does a quality education mean? Those who do not receive a quality education stand a very high significant chance of being incarcerated. A Department of Justice report found that 75 percent of state prison inmates and 59 percent of federal inmates did not complete high school. The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that dropouts from the class of 2007 will cost the country “nearly $329 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetimes.”
It is time for the United States to leave behind the failures of our educational system which have resulted in lower ratings compared to other industrial nations. If change is to be made, we must remove the bureaucrats from education. Instead, educators and students must be given the greatest voice in reforming our broken education system.