Monday, March 08, 2010

Stand up to Obama's No Child Left Behind

Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, told us they would change the name of No Child Left Behind. Well, now we have it - Race to the Top. Unfortunately, we're now seeing that Race to the Top is an extension of NCLB. Using the punitive measures of the Bush era law, Race to the Top doles out money to states and districts that are willing to privatize and open up to charter schools. Meanwhile, it further demands that the "failing" schools of NCLB, mostly in cities meeting the needs of our poorest students, be punished. The recent Rhode Island firing of teachers is the model: blame the teachers and their union.

Sadly, our union here in Bloomington, Illinois approved District 87's application for Race to the Top funds. In assigning blame for this blunder, I have to say that it sits squarely with the national union leaderships, both of the AFT and NEA in failing to lead on this issue from the top. The NEA in particular seems unwilling to criticize Obama and his education policy. The NEA leadership contents itself with decontextualized criticisms of teacher merit pay based on test scores, failing to point out that Obama's Race to the Top seeks to implement such merit schemes. Without leadership from the national unions, teachers outside of the urban districts will fail to recognize how inner city schools are being unjustly attacked by NCLB. More than ever, these schools need our solidarity.

For information background on NCLB, watch Diane Ravitch on Democracy Now, embedded below in this same post. For an article on the Rhode Island situation, which includes info on their capitulation, see the article on Susan Ohanian's website.

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