Friday, October 14, 2011

Destroying Schools to Improve Them: should the NCLB revolution continue?

"It became necessary to destroy the school to save it." -- updating a quote originally from the war in Vietnam
Suppose someone advocated overthrowing the government solely because poverty, even at a low level, continued to exist over the span of a generation. We might point out to that person that poverty exists at some level almost universally. We might argue that weighed against the progress we have made over the centuries, there was no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. If that person persisted in his advocacy of overthrow we would, at least, disregard him as someone who lacked the wisdom to render intelligent judgment on such matters.

In accord with guidelines set out under No Child Left Behind, Sam Houston High School in Houston Texas was closed down because 110 students out of 2500 persisted in getting low scores on math exams. (See Erika Mellon Houston Chronicle Friday June 6, 2008
 "Math scores of a few were the death of Sam Houston" http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5824088.html).

It is not that anyone knows exactly what the problem here is. This is just a knee-jerk response involving the superstition that by firing principals and teachers, students can be made to learn; and, by interrupting the education of the majority, a minority can be brought to succeed. This confuses reprisal with accountability.

See Moral Responsibility in the Education Industry:
how much can school reform enhance a student's occupational fitness?


Cordially,

-- EGR