Friday, March 11, 2011

Message To Arne Duncan

 “We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible and focused on the schools and students most at risk.”
Arne Duncan
House education and workforce committee meeting
March, 2011

Those are the words Arne Duncan used but the message these words gave have nothing to do with fixing schools.  Laws won’t teach Johnny his multiplication tables or teach Jenny to read.  Laws won’t give Crystal the foundation she needs to succeed in college.  Laws won’t help Billy acquire the skills he needs to be gainfully employed.

The Department of Education is estimating that schools not meeting yearly proficiency in math and reading will jump from 37 percent to 82 percent as more states raise their standards to satisfy NCLB mandates.  Duncan claims the NCLB legislation is broken and “has left a thousand ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed.”   I hate to be the one to say this but Obama’s Race To The Top is just as harmful to education and I take great exception with everything he has said and done in this important area.

Focusing on schools and students at risk is depriving many other students of services they need.  Schools devoting the majority of their budgets to failing students have nothing left for the children who are not failing.  The brighter children are just as deserving.  They are entitled to enrichment programs and advanced classes.  Many schools throughout the city have been forced to cut advanced placement classes and elective classes because there is not enough money available.

Right now, Title I money is being used in the high schools to provide tutoring in math and English.  Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible and kids who need and want the service cannot get it.  And, to make matters even worse, the schools are forced to hire outside consulting firms to run these programs.  Money that could be used to improve education is now going into the pockets of some business person. A woman is being paid to walk around and monitor the program to make sure only the students on the list are being helped.

I have no argument with Duncan’s assertion that we should stop labeling schools as failures but I do have a major problem with the way he, and all those billionaires like Broad and Gates think it can be fixed.  I am a math teacher.  I try to teach my students to look at their answers and see if they make sense.  Knowing an answer is wrong is a good way to then head on to a correct solution.  Duncan is not even close to finding the correct response.

1 comment:

mathematicamama said...

Maybe we should be calling them "bully-onaires", just like the bigger kids on the playground who think they can push everyone around because of their size.