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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 11, 2010

SOME LETTERS TO THE NY TIMES ON EDUCATION DEFORM

The No Child Left Behind law is founded on faulty assumptions of top-down mandates, zero tolerance, narrow forms of assessment, and privatization. These are all popular nowadays, but have been shown to be ineffective in other sectors (health, corrections, welfare and so on) and have a dismal track record so far in education.

President Obama's appointment of Arne Duncan as education secretary instead of the education scholar Linda Darling-Hammond has set authentic reform in education back by at least a decade. Educators aren't the villains; we might actually know something about education and how to reform it. Consult us. - Gary L. Anderson

The writer is a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University.

Die-hard backers of the No Child Left Behind law refuse to recognize that it has failed and needs a comprehensive overhaul. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, student performance was improving faster before the law than after it passed. Achievement gaps have not narrowed significantly. . .

Real reform starts with determining why a school is not meeting standards, instead of test-driven, one-size-fits-all policies. Improvement must focus on building capacity to help students learn, not the fantasy that sanctions will transform educational quality.

Instead, Secretary Arne Duncan is pushing unproven nostrums like charter school expansion, which failed in Chicago, and linking teacher evaluations to test scores. These are no more likely to succeed than No Child Left Behind.

Congress needs to start over, drafting an education law that truly improves school quality and closes achievement gaps. - Monty Neill

The writer is deputy director of FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, and chairman of the Forum on Educational Accountability.

All educators understand the necessity of assessment, but it is our obligation to do the minimum amount of testing necessary, and no more. Every minute spent testing that is not necessary bleeds time from learning, and every dollar spent on testing that is not necessary is stolen from investments that really need to be made in schools. Any new education law should result in less testing, not more. - Stephen Krashen

The writer is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education.


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