Before anchors are raised on the kind of post this was
, the kind many folks disagree with, I set sail with this in the hold:
- NCLB says test kids, report what happens, and if you blow, feel the pressure to pick it up. If that makes educators stressed or sad, that level of stress is nothing compared to the stress of being a young person without the skills to be successful.
- The pass-rate is incredibly low, and it's absurd for us not to meet them, and absurd to complain.
- NCLB does not dictate how students are taught, what they are taught, what happens on a Wednesday at 10:36, and if schools and districts make poor choices in their response to the legislation, we ought to critique those poor decisions, and not the context in which they are made, especially given the nature of that context (see 1. and 2. above).
- Basic skills are not basic. They are fundamental, foundational, and critical. In their absence, almost all other leanings are undervalued and under-realized.
- Instruction in basic skills is not necessarily mind-numbing and awful. This manner of instruction, in these settings, undoubtedly exists, and it is the reason so many fail so mightily to acquire these skills.
- There is a difference between using the arts in instruction, and providing instruction in the arts. The former is right on; the latter can be right on, but I'm always reminded of a line from the West Wing: "If the government were in charge of science, we'd have the best iron lung, but no polio vaccine."
- If we acknowledge that there are twin problems in education, one being a so-called "narrowing" of opportunity for high achieving kids, and the other being an inability to provide huge numbers of primarily Black and Latino skills essential, foundational skills, I'm always going to advocate for our efforts to be directed toward solving the problem of how we get more kids learning at a level commensurate to their abilities and the requirements of future life. Always. I'm not denying the existence of the former problem, or that it is a problem, but that it's incumbent on us to fix problems of survival -- and yo, it's diplomas or jail in our cities -- before problems of enrichment.