Thursday, May 1, 2008

Come the Revolution, Brother....

It's about time. I just read an article in Teacher Magazine describing the fallout for a Washington State science teacher who refused to administer state's NCLB test. Hallelujah, I say. Our country was founded on the right of citizens to rebel against injustice and bad government, and NCLB epitomizes both.

As Jamie MacKenzie repeatedly shows on his excellent site, No Child Left, the law suffers from myriad problems.

It focuses on too narrow a curriculum, lacks adequate funding and diverts some of what funding is available to home-schooling and corporate for-profit schools--long a part of the right-wing agenda, it allows for few if any social implications such as poverty, disabilities or other indicators of our malfunctioning social system, which has only worsened under the Bush regime.

To put it bluntly, No Child Left Behind is, at best, an ill thought out and poorly implemented attempt at pandering. (Never mind my friend, Martin's, conspiracy theory that it's a perfectly-wrought plan to destroy public education, blazing the way for privatization!)

Worse, it goes against everything we know about good teaching, as teachers and administrators fall back on rote-learning and familiar pedagogy, in fear of draconian measures should students perform poorly on the tests.

I'm all for meaningful assessment and national standards, but this is not the way to go about it. As educators, we should be taking a more forceful stand against what we know to be bad policy. Sometimes, it takes a little civil disobedience to catch not only the government's attention, but the public's. So I applaud Carl Chew, and ardently hope he uses his moment of fame to educate the public to the REAL issues the government chooses to ignore.

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