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Saturday, February 01, 2014

NCLB co-author says he never anticipated federal law would force testing obsession

Rep. George Miller from California is claiming innocence.  How can he when we had just come out of a federal court case on high-stakes testing here in Texas and we learned unequivocally that the system produced a disparate impact on Latino/as, African Americans, special education children, and English language learners?

The trial produced ample evidence, as well, about where this system was headed.  

Plus, Dr. Linda McNeil and I visited with his office staff before the passage of NCLB—and many other offices from the Texas Congressional delegation. 

The late Senator Paul Wellstone was a fierce, very vocal opponent during this time period, as well.  His office, especially Jill Morningstar, was instrumental in educating many offices about the expected harmful effects of this law.  Boy, was his death ever untimely.

With all of these offices, we shared evidence from Texas that this law would marginalize both students and curriculum—and most especially, children of color and the poor.  

This law was nevertheless about ideology based on harmful assumptions about teachers and kids, while also appealing to the "managerial mindset," those thinking that a stick was needed to force teachers to teach and the kids to learn.  To quote Jonathan Kozol, never mind the "savage inequalities" of our schools.  And never mind the opinion of professionals—not all of them racist or classist—as he actually suggests in this interview, albeit obliquely.  

But that is exactly how they got the liberal vote—this law would make white teachers teach Black and Brown kids, regardless.  No excuses!  And guess what?  We not only do not have to invest in education, but we can even threaten taking away their resources with this law. 

How offensive, cruel, and fantastically convenient.

-Angela

Rep. George Miller, D-Contra Costa, visited with EdSource Today staff shortly after announcing his retirement after 40 years in Congress. Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, visited with EdSource Today staff shortly after announcing his retirement after 40 years in Congress. Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource
Rep. George Miller, a leading architect of the No Child Left Behind legislation, says he never anticipated that the landmark education law would ignite the testing obsession that engulfed the nation’s schools, leading to what some have charged is a simplistic “drill and kill” approach that subverts real instruction.
EdSource sat down with Miller, D-Martinez, last week for a lengthy and wide-ranging conversation on his accomplishments, philosophy and hopes for the future of public education. The Contra Costa County congressman, who served as chair or ranking minority member of the House Education Committee and the Workforce Committee since 1997, announced earlier this month that after 40 years in the House of Representatives, he would not seek re-election when his current term expires.

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