Peter Campbell of Transform Education [Ed: Return to the Status Quo Ante NCLB Education would have been more accurate] responds to my post The Hive Mind's New Buzz in which I criticized the anti-NCLBer's new meme that "English language learners (kids whose primary language is not English) and learning disabled kids (kids of average intelligence who are underperforming) can't be taught to read at grade level in a timely manner" and, as such, NCLB should be repealed, burned, buried, and the ground salted so we can return to the halcyon days when kids didn't learn how to read and no one really cared (except for a few marginalized crackpots).
Peter posted a longish comment in which he disagreed with my tough-love [Ed: fair but firm] criticisms which I'm reposting here. Since I just learned how to change font colors, I'm going to put my rebuttals in blue. Anyway, here's Peter:
Since KDeRosa cited my blog post out of context, I thought I'd clarify this a bit more.
Let's play a game, shall we?
Goodie, I love games.
You've heard of the poker game "Texas Hold 'Em" that's sweeping the nation, right? Well, the game I want to play is called "Texas Test 'Em." Here's how it works.
1) You create a one-size-fits-all test for kids. This includes kids who can barely speak English and kids who cannot read at grade level due to a developmental disability, learning disability, etc.
In every class I've ever been in, they only gave one test to every students (one size fits all, if you will). They didn't give one test to the kid who didn't speak English well, another test to the kid who wasn't that smart, and another test for the rest of the kids. (This is not about giving accommodations to non-cognitively handicapped kids.) You had to pass the third grade reading test if you wanted to say you were proficient in the third grade reading standards set by the school. Otherwise you went to summer school, learned some more (hopefully), and then retook the test.
I don't know what all the fuss is all about under NCLB now that the states are setting the standards and giving the tests. Remember, if the schools were doing their job properly and not socially promoting kids who they hadn't been taught, we might not have NCLB today. Unless, of course, you believe that this was a plot hatched by Karl Rove to steal tax dollars and funnel them to his fat cat friends, in which case I'd suggest adjusting your tin-foil cap.
2) You tell the kids that fail the test that they are stupid, a.k.a. they "do not meet grade level expectations."
Hold on, cowboy, you're jumping to conclusions. Why are we blaming all this on the kids? Could it be that maybe, just maybe, the schools are at fault by not adequately teaching these difficult-to-teach kids. NCLB doesn't blame the kids. NCLB blames the schools. I believe that that is where the responsibility rightly belongs. Some believe the responsibility should be shared between the schools and the students (and their parents). But, almost no one believes that kids are solely to blame with the antics that pass for teaching today. But I digress, certainly if a student has not passed the test, which presumably is aligned with the state standards, it's a good indication that he has not met the state's grade level expectations. The test merely tells us that there is a problem with the education at the school. Don't shoot the mssenger.
3) In some states, e.g., Florida and Texas, you make these stupid kids repeat the grade they failed because this is good for stupid kids.
Repeating a grade may not be the best thing for failing students (the research, such that it is, is mixed and inconclusive), but, the alternative, social promotion, hasn't worked too well either now has it? Maybe this whole grouping by age idea instead of grouping by ability was a bad idea from the get go. But again, why are you just blaming the students? Show me a failing student and I'll show you a kid who was in all likelihood inadequately taught.
4) Keep repeating this cycle until all the stupid students have dropped out or have been imprisoned.
Yes, it is awful when schools fail to adequately teach their students, especially when so much money is spent on education. Many people viewed this as a bad thing. That's why we have NCLB -- flawed perhaps, but better than what we had before.
I love this game!
Hey, I thought we were going to play a game. That wasn't a game. That was a series of weak arguments based on a faulty premise. I feel gypped.
Yes, you've read the research that shows that holding kids back and making them repeat a grade actually increases the likelihood that they will eventually drop out of school,
What happened to steps one and two? Step One: Teach kids poorly. Step Two: kids don't learn and fail. Step Three: Kids held back. Maybe if we worked on step one a bit more, we'd reach step three a lot less often. And, what about all the research that says that kids who don't learn in school are the ones who tend to drop out. It's the failure to learn that's causing the problem, not the failed test. This is one of those root cause issues that the left thinks is so important.
and you've read the research that shows that the vast majority of prison inmates dropped out of school,
See above re root causes. And bear in mind that correlation isn't causation.
and you've read the research that shows that per pupil expenses in this country are about $10K per student whereas per prisoner expenses in this country are about $30K, but you think that most of this crap published by educrats is just more liberal whining.
Liberal whining, perhaps. Irrelevant, definitely. And, I think you lost you're liberal creds when you started calling kids stupid, you meanie.
And, yes, you know that a kid with an IEP has been diagnosed [giggle] as such after thorough evaluation by a team of trained experts [giggle] who know a thing or two about learning disabilities [that they likely caused or made up] , and you know that if the IEP says that a 4th grader reads at a 1st grade level [because his school failed to teach him in grades K through 4 inclusive] that that means that this child reads at a 1st grade level, and you know that if this child takes a 4th grade reading test without any kind of accommodations [i.e., someone answering the questions for him] that this child will more than likely fail this test, you still want to fail this stupid kid [there you go again] because he needs it and it's good for him.
No, I want to fail his school for failing to teach him. Then if the school doesn't shape up, I want to close the school so it doesn't damage any more kids.
After all, you believe that all children can learn [Indeed I do, though you apparently don't], and that all kids -- ALL of them -- should be held to high standards.
By "ALL" you must mean 99% of students, because 1% are already excluded from "the high standards" under NCLB and get to take an alternative assessment, i.e., held to a low standard. We may disagree whether 1% is too low, but I'd rather err on the side of excluding as few kids as possible who might be capable of meeting the "high standards" (which, in actuality, are already pitifully low).
Now, if you would please do me one more favor. Please translate several short passages from the ancient Persian philosopher Rumi from Farsi to English. I recognize that this might be challenging. But I believe that we should hold you to high standards.
No problem, just send over a highly-qualified teacher in translating complex passages from Farsi to English who is willing and able to teach me for a year and I'll get right on it. Oops, I forgot that you didn't know that there was this magical "teaching step" that is supposed to come in between the setting of the standard (in this case learning to translate Farsi) and passing the test (actually translating a passage). I understand the misconception though because what passes for teaching in most schools is mostly non-existent.
And since we're asking for favors, could you do me a favor and translate the latin term "non sequitur" into English for me?
If you object to this proposal, then you are a racist bigot [I was getting worried, I thought you'd never pull out the race card. I'm so relieved] who does not believe that all educational policy experts like yourself can learn. You should really dream bigger, friend.
Lucky for me I didn't object then. And, watch who you call friend, pal.
Hopefully, Peter realizes that we kid because we love. But seriously, Peter, you need to examine some of the assumptions you're basing your arguments on.
Update: the comments are flying fast and furious over at the original post.