Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fewer But Still Plenty of Children Left Behind

Blammo! It's time for more James Call: Expert.

Reader "Damian" today asks me to summarize and give commentary on the Obama admin's new education approach.

No Child Left Behind vs. Children

NY Times, January 31, 2010

Ok so like the No Child Left Behind act was kind of a "shape up or ship out" directive to all our public schools. Tough love: nice in theory, but if you're a cripple, and I take away your crutches, and command you to walk, how much success should I reasonably think you're going to have getting around? The Bush admin didn't really do shit to help schools help themselves, other than to just say, "Here's a bunch of standardized tests, pass them or your budget is cut." This pretty much applied across the board.

The Obama administration is rightly going to back off on that one-size-fits-all approach, probably eliminating the worst of the tests and holding different schools to different standards. For instance, if your school goes from God-awful to Just Fairly Bad, you'll get a nice chunk of education budget change. But if your school is Good and simply remains Good, you won't get any extra scrilla.

Sounds good, right? Rewards progress? The inherent problem is that the schools who have the resources and community support to improve themselves dramatically are already pretty good schools. They're located in good school districts. Of course those schools can improve - they're surrounded by the middle or upper class, not poverty with its attendant chronic social problems. Inner city schools and other failed institutions located in hellholes are going to struggle the hardest to improve at all. They're the ones who need the money the most, regardless of progress, really.

We'll only be able to judge this new education policy in retrospect. To me, it seems like this the big innovations are probably going to bypass a lot of schools, especially as charter schools are rewarded. I dunno, I could be wrong. The education czar, Arne Duncan, seems pretty on point. But who knows. I doubt this new policy will be any worse than Every Child Left Behind Because They Flunk Some Bullshit Standardized Test.

There is some *unqualified* good news though - admidst the so-called "spending freeze," the Education budget is going up about $40 billion dollars, over 2 years. I mean, that's peanuts compared to what the Pentagon gets, but it's better than normal. Which is kind of sad, when you think about it.

My proposal: SWAP the Pentagon and Education budgets. Especially since the value earned back on $1 in education investment tends to come to about $1.30-$1.50, over time. But then, I'm a big liberal commie fag traitor who hates America and our values.


erinmelina said...

So... what are your specific thoughts on charter schools then?

James Call: Expert said...

Charter Schools seem like a welfare scheme for the private sector to me - what's to keep them from raising their prices to absorb a subsidy? But I suppose if they're price controlled, I'd be for 'em. Some people swear by them. To me, I don't understand why we can't just improve the nature of our public schools. Between loosening some of the strictures of the Teacher's Unions, and adding significant increases to the federal education budget, we should be able to produce a nation of non-retards.