ESEA: The bad ideas linger

It didn’t take long for the selfanointed education “experts,” many of whom haven’t darkened a classroom door since graduation day, to jump all over the real experts – teachers – for criticizing President Obama’s “blueprint” for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Obama may want to retire the “No Child Left Behind” name, but, unfortunately, he wants to breathe new life into some of the bad ideas that made No Child Left Behind such a failure. They include things like an overreliance on highstakes, standardized testing to identify winners and losers among school kids and teachers alike and requiring states to compete for education resources rather than assuring more funding stability for all the schools. The competitive grants approach is particularly dicey in the current poor economy and for a state like Texas, which already lags behind in perpupil spending on education.

Like his predecessor’s approach to education, Obama’s blueprint is a topdown approach with insufficient opportunity for collaboration with teachers and parents. In short, teachers would continue to bring up the rear of the line for resources but anchor the front of the line for blame. So, if teachers and their union representatives aren’t going to call the administration’s hand, who is?

The National Education Association and the Texas State Teachers Association want to be partners with the administration in improving the public schools. But we won’t be silent partners. As NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said earlier this week, “We intend to engage in a productive dialogue to meet the needs of students, educators and public schools.”

That dialogue has begun.


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