June 8, 2007

Read About ‘the Seven Deadly Sins of NCLB’ from Phi Delta Kappa

Have you heard about the “Seven Deadly Sins of NCLB?”

Paul Houston, executive director of American Association of School Administrators, lays them out in the June 2007 issue of the Kappan. Here’s the brief version (taken directly from his article):

(1) Assuming that schools are broken. Most education reform is driven by a belief that the system is badly broken and must be fixed. In fact, the system is quite successful in fulfilling its historical mission of preparing children for an agricultural and industrial economy. It is not broken. It is a well-oiled machine doing the wrong thing.

(2) Conflating testing with education. Testing is an important part of the educational process. Teachers need to know what kids know and how they are progressing, and the public has a right to have a snapshot of how well benchmarks are being met. But testing must be kept in perspective.

(3) Harming poor children and ignoring the realities of poverty. ESEA was originally created to address the needs of poor and minority children. While great strides have been made, much remains to be done.

(4) Relying on fear and coercion. Motivation has always been the key to good education. Unfortunately, NCLB relies for motivation on the blunt force of threats and punishments.

(5) Lacking clarity. Any accountability system should be clear and understandable to those it is accountable to: parents and other citizens.

(6) Leaving out the experts. Those at the federal level do not -- and cannot -- know better how to educate a child than those working at the child's level.

(7) Undermining our international competitiveness. Finally, the greatest sin committed by NCLB is a sin of omission. NCLB fails to address the core question for America: How do we sustain our place in a global environment?

Intrigued? Read or listen to the entire article on the PDK Web site.

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