Monday, January 09, 2006

Playing Politics With School Age Children

I don't know about you, but if I were an elementary school student, I would have fallen asleep about one third into the president's speechifying PR junket to Maryland. I hate it when he uses kids as political pawns, but oops, he did it again.

Two things for those of you not distracted by watching play-by-play CSPAN coverage of the Alito hearings:

1) It looks like Laura Bush is not above playing politics as well suggesting that there is a direct link between NCLB and student learning.
Today our schools are improving, thanks to the No Child Left Behind law, and through the teachers and the principals who bring out the best in our children every day. I especially want to thank, now, the teachers and the principals here at this school. (Applause.)
2) No where in the W's speech did he mention that perhaps, just perhaps, the students themselves might have been directly responsible for their own learning and success.

Indeed, the person responsible for learning, regardless how good or bad a teacher is, is the student. This speech really demonstrates for me how misguided the president is in his quest to improve schools and learning. Once again he trots out his performance in Texas while governor. We should not let him slide by suggesting that he did a fine job there.

In fact, I would argue that motivated students learn best no matter the teacher's (or principal's) performance, and despite whether or not they are tested. I'm going to go out on a limb here and stipulate something profound, but no altogether shocking: All tests do is tell you how good a person takes a test, not if they have actually learned anything.

Look Mr. and Mrs. Bush: If you are going play politics with school age children and try to connect the dots between student learning, NCLB, and testing, you have got to provide more proof than test scores that increase over time. That's not going to hold water in the scientific community, nor with any self-respecting pedagogue.

1 comment:

mulligan said...

Brava! Brava!

In case you can't tell, I agree completely.