Sunday, August 10, 2014


When you receive public applause from Diane Ravitch you know you must be doing something right. Such is the case with Rebecca Holcomb's letter to parents and caregivers concerning the damage to our education system that continues to be reeked by the No Child Left Behind act. Holcombe, the recently appointed Vermont Education Secretary eloquently and passionately describes how unrealistic it is to expect every student in every school throughout Vermont to score as proficient.

She also highlights how absurd it is that 97 percent of schools failed to make "adequate yearly progress". This would have been 100% if not for the fact that some schools were exempt because they are field testing the SBAC tests, the next travesty to be inflicted upon out schools.

The single-minded, myopic vision of NCLB has created a situation in which so much of what was good about US schools has been sacrificed for the sake of testing a narrow band of material much of which was learned simply to be recalled on a test, just like we did in the 1950s and before.

To label schools as failures has always seemed to me to be one of the nastiest, meanest things you could possibly do to an organization. We would never think of publicly labeling individual children, or even adults for that matter, as failures so why is it acceptable to do this to a whole community.

There are so many other things that schools, especially elementary schools should be free to teach that are not testable with paper and pencil or a keyboard and screen. The science of attention in the field of cognitive neuroscience illustrated by the work of Adele Diamond, for example, is something that many schools are already beginning to embrace  according to a recent PBS program.

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