2007 January 26 Friday
Bush Wants Bigger No Child Left Behind Effort

George W. Bush wants to expand the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation which is coing up for renewal this year. NCLB is based upon the biggest and most popular lie of our era: the idea that everyone is capable of learning and performing intellectually difficult tasks. Bush is proposing a number of new policies to scale up the pursuit of NCLB's unachievable goals - just like his Iraq policy.

  • Holding schools accountable for achievement on science tests, beginning in 2008-09 at three grade levels, with all students to be proficient by 2019-20.
  • Expanding on the use of growth models, which look at how much a student grows in a school year, not just the final score, to judge schools.
  • Providing vouchers -- worth an average of $4,000 per student -- to enable students in chronically low-performing schools to transfer to private or other public schools. The money would include both federal Title I money and newly created Promise Scholarships of $2,500 per student.
  • Setting up "Opportunity Scholarships" within set geographical areas to help students attend private schools through a local scholarship program.

The expansion of the NCLB requirements into still more areas won't make the whole undertaking finally start to work. The Bushies have been trying solipsism for 6 years now and it has been a dismal failure. How about a more empirical approach to policy based on what we know about human nature rather than pretty lies?

Bush lives a very active fantasy life.

President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law in 2002. It requires schools to test students in reading and math annually in grades three to eight, and establishes progressively more severe penalties for schools that fail to make adequate progress, including shutting the schools altogether.

Administration officials said there were currently about 1,800 of these schools across the country, where students have failed to meet state targets for reading and math for more than five years. But they said that loopholes in the current law allowed them to avoid serious action indefinitely.

“We all have to answer the question what are we going to do about that,” Ms. Spellings said in a telephone news conference. “This is the president’s answer to, Is the promise of No Child Left Behind real?”

We can bring liberal democracy to Iraq. We can also make all kids above average like in Lake Woebegone.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings seems to think several delusional ideas add up to a sensible idea.

"I see this as a very vigorous package of proposals that are sound and make sense if taken together," said U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. "This is the president's answer to the question, `Is the promise of No Child Left Behind real?' If this proposal is not what Congress had in mind, then we all have to ask them what they have in mind."

Schools should be measured by starting with the IQs of their students and then ask whether each kid is developing to that kid's intellectual potential. Do not deceitfully grade a school as failing when it has kids with an average 90 IQ and the kids are learning about as much we can expect 90 IQ kids to lean. NCLB school grades are based on a lie. Our elites should stop telling so many big lies.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 January 26 11:03 PM  Education

SamC said at January 27, 2007 3:03 PM:

Honestly, I think we are at the point now where being delusional about race and IQ is what it means to be a "good American".

Your Image Here said at January 28, 2007 1:07 AM:

Quite true SamC. You have likely heard the same thing as I have: ''Sean, you're a great American'' and heard the reply; ''And you're A Great American as well''.
If all it takes to be ''A Great American'' is to suck up to Sean Hannity, I don't want to be ''A Great American''...

dougjnn said at January 30, 2007 2:15 PM:


I’m of two mind’s about this post.

The first is that you’re absolutely right that it’s impossible for everyone to be above average and that there are innate differences in intelligence certainly between individuals and probably between the major races. And that in any event, even if only a small part or none of the racial differences were genetic, a large part of them are fixed by very early ages most likely by such home environmental factors as style and amount of parental interaction. In other words, nothing the schools can fix – and nothing that’s like to change quickly. (I used to hope it would but a generation after AA became widespread and the children of it’s beneficiaries are moving through school, it’s apparent it won’t.)

On the other hand, the public schools could get vastly better than they are for the left side of the bell curve -- and need to fast. It may be hopeless for the below average in IQ to benefit much from an academic course of study at the college level, but it's not impossible for nearly all to be competent readers and users of arithmetic. No child (almost) should be left behind that level.

If NCLB focused on teaching all children at least the basics of competent basic reading, writing and arithmetic (including percentages, fractions, basic word problems and the like), and leaving (almost) no child behind that level of achievement, it would be a vast improvement. (Though the center and right side of the bell curve are far more important to American and every other society, and most public schools do a miserable job there as well these days, compared to our peer post industrial nations – or indeed compared to 40 years ago.)

However it’s absurd to want everyone to meet the same standards. Many are simply not capable of doing trigonometry, or of following complicated abstract arguments.

Return to the basics for below average and average students. For the brighter, move quickly through those and then go on to enrichment classes.

The three worst things that have happened to public pre college education over the last 30-40 years are:

1) Pursuit of unproven educational fads and PC dogma instead of proven basics with sufficient drilling. Education should move beyond basics but not before they are a SOLID foundation.

2) Breakdown in discipline due to lack of strong sanctions on disruptive or violent behavior, based upon a pervasive worldview of too much permissiveness and of not “victimizing” the unrulely, at the cost of letting them victimize and impoverish the learning of everyone else. This of course is far more of a problem in predominantly “disadvantaged” schools. The NE Asian minorities seems miraculously to have far fewer of these problems, which it would be “racist” to think had anything to do with cultural differences.

3) Less and less competent teachers far too infused with AA hires, which the rise of strong teachers unions during this period have made it nearly impossible to shape up or fire.

dougjnn said at January 30, 2007 2:19 PM:

We should also stopping letting in large numbers of immigrants with average IQ's way below the current American average. They will end up draining our country and sapping our strength.

Guy Gold said at February 3, 2007 5:26 AM:

Let's presume Lake Woebegone exists. Would it not be a more cruel society than the one we have today? Think about it, let's say everyone at Lake Woebeogone is a genius. In such a society, those that became CEOs of Fortune 500 companies would have done so on something other than merit. They would have arrived there through either back stabbing, luck, or family influence. Meanwhile, other geniuses would be working at Walmart as cashiers. The 2nd most absurd belief in the education establishment today (2nd to the idea people are all created with equivalent intelligence) is that if everyone were a genius that could become highly educated, that nobody would have to work at Walmart. The economy must have Walmart workers. Indeed, by going from 10% of the population having a degree to nearly 50% now, all we have done is create a situation where Forbes estimates somewhere between 30% to 50% of college graduates are in the same jobs they'd have held had they gone to work right out of high school. They wasted income all those years from college. Some might argue "well they are still educated" but I have taken college courses (but chose not to finish because I calculated that despite conventional wisdom college is a poor financial investment) and I will tell you virtually everything I learned in those courses was forgotten within a decade. Friends of mine in middle age admit they remember little of what they learned in college. I have a friend who is a teacher that went through the highest level math and science courses in college (calculus, physics, etc.) and decided she might like to teach college prepatory math classes in high school. When she took the exam to become credentialed, she failed the exam because it has been so long since she was in college she had forgotten that much lower level math.

Education is a mess. Indeed, being a teacher used to be a profession where one was not required to obtain a degree. Student performance was better in the era where simply high school graduates could teach in classrooms. As credentialing standards have been increased to become teachers, with those higher credentialing standards student performance has fallen. Could it be another big lie in the education establishment is the key to being a good teacher is the love of children? Could college education courses be a fall back position to those who aren't intelligent enough to pursue degree plans that pay better and it's the fallback position that is the primary motivator now to become a teacher than the love of children? The truthful answer is "almost assuredly."

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