To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Here is an imaginary interview.

Imaginary reporter: "Miss Kennedy (???), why do you want to be a senator?"

Imaginary Caroline: "Well, first of all, I've followed the career of Sen. Clinton with interest. I am very impressed by her accomplishments regarding [issue one and issue two, whatever they might be] and want to make sure that momentum is not lost there.

"Secondly, as you may know, I have long been interested in education. It's my observation that No Child Left Behind has put new and much-needed focus on the performance of students who traditionally have passed under the radar of our education system. At the same time, NCLB has some flaws that I'd like to see ironed out. With the globalization of the economy, the success of public education is crucial to the national prosperity as never before.

"And then the dichotomy between security and preservation of civil rights is tighter than at any time I can think of in our nation's history. We're on a knife-edge here, of either losing the very freedoms that make America unique in the world, or falling prey more and more to the acts of terror that we've seen elsewhere in the world [be prepared to name London, Madrid, Bali]. Serious, informed, knowledgeable people disagree about exactly where on the continuum from absolute security to absolute freedom we need to find ourselves. Our government has to have people pulling both ways on this issue so that we can strike a balance between these extremes. It will be a dynamic balance. At no time will everyone be happy. But we have to try to reach consensus, and be flexible enough to respond to global events, and I want to be part of that conversation."

Imaginary reporter: "Miss Kennedy, going back to NCLB for a moment - what do you see as its flaws?"

Imaginary Caroline: "One flaw is that the states tend to set one standard for all students of each grade. With the mainstreaming of special-education students (a very worthy thing in itself) we see that the standards are being set artificially low in order to prevent these students from negatively affecting the test score averages. [Examples ready.] Another flaw is that there is no national standard so that there is no way to compare one state's performance to another. And I would like to see more analysis of the data we have - we can see which school systems are teaching their minority and special-ed students more effectively within the same state, but I'd like to see more structure for sharing strategies that work.

"Ideally, a public school system should be able to take each individual child as far as his or her innate ability and ambition will go. We can't have one-size-fits-all standards for an entire grade-level cohort and think that we can measure that.

"But NCLB gives us somewhere to start. We need to build on it and make it better."

Well, so much for imagination. Here is the reality.


Nancy said...

I couldn't listen to the video because of the constant buzzing "You know No.6" etc. - what was that about? But your criticisms of NCLB made sense to me. One problem I see is with ESL kids, since in their first year or two or three depending on the child, there's simply no way they can "meet standards" on the English language CRCT, or pass the required graduation exam. I got the impression at one of our high schools that the principal would rather the struggling students just go ahead and drop out, since they had so little hope of graduating. And their presence lowers the school's average test scores. I think the students in schools with well-developed ESOL programs do a lot better than the schools who have one teacher to serve all students one morning a week.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I think she got up to 30 "you-knows" in that one interview. If I talked that way in our humble meetings here at work they'd eat my lunch. And even when she does talk it's "blah blah, family tradition, blah blah, public service". I think that details about her thoughts regarding NCLB or any other issue are actually less important than demonstrating that she HAS thoughts.

As to NCLB - you have to collect data before you even know where you are, so that you can set goals, then you have to collect data to see if you have reached those goals. So I don't have a problem with testing, and I certainly don't have a problem with breaking out scores for minorities and reduced-price-lunch kids and so on. That's all part of finding out where you are. But when it comes to goal-setting I think there needs to be some refinement of the way the data are collected and used. We can't sit on our laurels once we've educated everyone to the lowest common denominator. If a black kid on free lunch at an urban school has an IQ of 150 and enough drive to end up as a PhD rocket scientist, I want her public school education to be up to the task of preparing her for it. Verifying that we are educating the students with IQs of 60 to the limit of their ability won't tell us that we're serving that kid. Is this asking too much? Probably, but I think we have to try.

CreoleInDC said...

I couldn't stop looking at the food she was eating. Just...ew!

The Fifth String said...

Gads. People with the surname Kennedy (not to mention Clinton and Bush, among others) should be Constitutionally barred from seeking office. ANY office. GAWD how I detest that assumption of entitlement.

The Fifth String said...

At least her father RAN for office (albeit with his father's millions) and House before Senate.

Jeez. Go away, girl, and darken our door no more.