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Thompson: So What if 82% of Schools "Fail?"

Nclb Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warns that 82% of schools could "fail" next year under NCLB.  Who Cares?  Before Duncan, a failing school simply had to mark "Other," and change the name on its marquee, claiming to be reconstituted.  Teachers would then be subjected to more micromagement of their "Word Walls," Data Walls," and lesson plans, and endure longer faculty meetings.   Or, as Sam Dillion reported in the New York Times, the state could simply dumb down test standards as South Carolina did when it dropped its school failure rate from 81% to 41% in only one year. The primary person facing high stakes when the inevitable hits and 100% of schools are labeled as failures is Duncan, who took the worst of NCLB and applied it with more ferocity to the bottom 10% of schools.  I have no doubt that some of Duncan's 700 turnaround schools will benefit.  But after a pound of flesh is taken from the teachers of those schools, and hundreds of millions in spent on computer systems to keep track of performance pay schemes, the chances are that most of those schools will revert to the tried and true method of  reform on the cheap by subjecting teachers to more micromanagement of the "Word Walls," Data Walls," and lesson plans, and longer faculty meetings. - JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.

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What's striking in Sam Dillon's story is the unwillingness of politicians to face accountability for the educational promises they are making. George W. Bush and education secretaries like Margaret Spellings promised 100% proficiency by 2014, a year they knew they would be out of office and therefore free from being held accountable; and now apparently the proposed reauthorization is making promises for achievements by 2020, when the current administration will be out of office and free from being held accountable. The hypocrisy is particularly noticeable when someone like Spellings claims "the states made these promises" regarding a federal mandate, while failing to acknowledge that the individuals who made promises have term-limited themselves out of accountability, while their successors have to inherit and deal with the mess.

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