Monday, November 24, 2008

Sandy Kress - Should No Child Left Behind law be scrapped?

My personal answer is 'Yes', it should be scrapped. But it will not be scrapped entirely - probably just revised. My belief is that it would be good to start over by creating a new "Excellence in Education Act" for K-12 education.

No Child Left Behind is a "test and punish" law based on top down intervention that imposes "privatization sanctions" on local schools. It is based on labeling schools as "failures" as defined by certain educational agendas.

Since leaving Dallas, Sandy Kress has done quite well financially as a lobbyist promoting No Child Left Behind and other such educational initiatives.

Many Years ago I served on a Dallas ISD initiative called the Commission on Educational Excellence (will have to check the name). Sandy Kress was the Committee Chair. The establishment of this initiative was aided by then Trustee, Dr. Yvonne Ewell, who later regretted it. The Commission was the beginning of Sandy Kress' involvement in Dallas ISD that led to his service later as Board President. That period of service as a Dallas ISD Trustee also resulted in his departure from Dallas to Austin and eventually to becoming a part of the national effort to establish the No Child Left Behind law.

The Sandy Kress comment below mentions Dallas ISD.

Sandy Kress Partner Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Posted November 18, 2008, 11:40am

Sandy Kress:

Let me jump in on this issue of which level of government is best to implement accountability. My view is that there is no simple answer. I served as president of the Dallas school board. We rarely felt pressure to raise standards or hold educators accountable to delivering to those standards. On the contrary, the pressure was typically to protect the mediocre. I don't want to pick on Dallas, so I would ask this question: where's the evidence, broadly, in our big districts, of "local control" shutting down bureaucracy, closing achievement gaps, giving parents real and serious choice, and educating to high standards?

Look, I agree parents and teachers are key. A commitment locally to excellence is essential. And the states must make a positive contribution. But, federal law does not materially disrupt that control. States set the standards. States make the tests. States set the performance standards and specific consequences for performance. States and districts determine curricula and personnel policies.

The feds' role is rather limited. They apply pressure to fix schools where subgroups are doing poorly against state standards; they put pressure against sham graduation standards; they put pressure to give parents choices out of poor-performing schools.

Indeed the best complaint against NLCB, even better than its flaws in execution, is that it's weak! It doesn't combat standards that fail to educate students to college/career readiness; it doesn't require rigorous enough assessments and performance standards; it doesn't go far enough in insisting upon teacher effectiveness; and it doesn't enforce well enough parental choice.

My question to those who would scrap NCLB because it gets in the way of the locals is: are you broadly and generally satisfied with the quality of public education in our schools? And, if not, how, other than "voting the bums out" (which doesn't seem to happen), can the forces at play locally be changed to bring about improvement?

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