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NCLB "solutions"

camilla.dely's picture

Last class we got into dicussion about the place of the education system inside of a much larger, interwoven set of systems that govern the way we live as human beings in society, and that for true reform, there needs to be a total ideological overhaul of sorts. In light of this, I found Stan Karp's essay exceptionally intriguing (and apalling) in which he outlines the structure of NCLB act and it's consectutive steps of addressing reform for schools that fails to meet the stipulated standards. I the act, privitazation seems to be lauded as a 'solution' to 'failing' urban schools, almost like a secret prize, but not called so, which seems to be simplified into channeling money into the school. But even if money is pumped into the schools, the outide factors that shape the lives of the students in school are left unaddressed and unacknowledged. 

However, before the corporate funds, the solutions of the NCLB are such that restrict funding to schools, which is really just imposing another obstacle on an already challenging task. 

Karp talks about the ways in which the success and what schools ARE doing for kids inspite of missed test scores are not recognized. For some kids, school is a place of safety, of mentors, of friends, of warmth and food, and hopefully, constancy. In my experience working in urban schools, having points of stability, routine and certainty in school are important admist many fluctuating factors and circumstances. Yet, the NCLB takes action in schools to transfer students and relplace teachers and staff. All of these measures destablize the community and environment, which only aggravates learning even more. The "solutions" proposed in the NCLB act's steps of reform, such as "supplemental tutorial services" make great assumptions about the sources of the problems in urban schools, without any real investiagtion being done. This is generalizing the environments of all schools, and applying a pre-determined, sequential (also implying that problems in urban schools have a speific order of genesis) formula, and expecting perfectly taylored results. 

Privatization, being the final resort in reforming the school, seems to be the antithesis of equality, which is supposedly the original goal of the NCLB act. Education is being looked at as a totally isolated, closed system, but still has to feed into the larger network of societal structures. We talked at length about capitalism being somewhere at the heart of inequality, and strengthening the foothold of large corporations in society only plays into it more. The pipeline from school to working world is disjointed: In school we achieve "equality," which is channeled into gross inequality in the the world. 

As for the determination of achievement, passing a standarized test does not correlate to actual learning and intellectual growth. Rote memorization skills and blind regurgitation of information, which are likely the skills that are emplyed to prepare for such tests, are inreasingly moved away from as the tools needed for success in higher educaiton and the world in general. Critical thinking, creativity, resourcefulness and strategizing are all praised as superior skill sets, yet we force, and then evaluation, kids on the opposite side of the spectrum. This feels like another hypocrital approach to school and education as a closed system in our soceity.