The New York Times for the second day in a row had an extraordinary lead story. Yesterday's, on the Higgs boson, showed well the whittling down of the world to material only. Today's "'No Child' Whittled Down by White House" shows the Obama administration's whittling down of children to protect the educational status quo.
The problem: "Across the country, nearly half of all schools missed their targets under No Child Left Behind in the 2010-11 school year. In some states, the rate was much higher. In Massachusetts, for example, 80 percent of schools did not make adequate progress during that school year, and in Virginia, the figure was 61 percent."
The purported solution: "In just five months, the Obama administration has freed schools in more than half the nation from central provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law."
(Good line for a teacher: My students are failing, so I've solved the problem by getting rid of the test.)
The NYT article includes many wonderful lines, such as: "Charles Pyle, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education, said that in some cases, schools that had improved test performance still failed to meet federal goals. 'The idea that 6 out of 10 Virginia schools are failing is preposterous,' Mr. Pyle said."
(Good line for a student: The idea that I failed the test is preposterous.)
And try this: "Critics have also faulted the law's system of rating schools, which they say labeled so many of them low performing that it rendered the judgment meaningless."
(Good line for the FDA: We found so many cans to contain botulism that it rendered the judgment meaningless.)
What's the solution? The story ends with a quotation from the interim principal of a consistently failing Massachusetts school: "Ms. Campanario said she welcomed the discretion to use the funding for 'professional development that is going to support the whole school.'" The last line: "'If you give me that money,' she said, 'I will put it to excellent use.'"
Is the choice between giving more money to administrators of failed schools, and the No Child Left Behind's regime of standardized tests that often straitjacketed creative teachers? What about the choice that goes unmentioned in this article, school choice?
The story does include a good line from a Maryland school superintendent: The new federal plan is "moving around the chairs on the Titanic."