No Child Left Behind 2.0

Friday, March 19, 2010

Policy analyst with the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, Jennifer Cohen, talks about the changes to No Child Left Behind and the student loan modifications attached to the health care bill.


Jennifer Cohen

Comments [30]

Steven Rudin from Nassau County, Long Island, NY.

I have been hearing the same problem discussed since I became a teacher in 1969. Back then the solution, in many districts, was open classrooms. It was all the rage in the 1960s and 70s. It was going to finally free students from the factory model of schools and allow them to be the free thinking human beings they were meant to be. In the disadvantaged district I worked in we were told to go along with this new idea or else! Anyone besides me even remember open classrooms?
Somehow there is an inverse relationship between the quality of the teacher needed to get good results and the quality of the student. The less motivated the students are the more it takes a super dedicated genius willing to work 24-7 to run the classroom. The more motivated the students are the more likely it is that an average teacher who presents the required material in a clear manner will get excellent results. Who ultimately determines the motivation of the students? The parents and the community. I think the pioneers of the civil rights movement who fought so hard for access to good schools would be appalled at the attitude toward education in many of the minority communities.

Mar. 21 2010 07:18 PM
mc from Brooklyn

#28 Voter: I agree that the desire cannot be taught, but many of the traits you mention, leaders, taskmasters, problem solvers, disciplinarians can be taught. We are doing a poor job teaching them The colleges and universities that graduate them acknowledge that they do a poor job teaching them. We need over 3 million teachers in this country. Seems to me we should at least try to maximize the resource.

Mar. 19 2010 01:20 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

MC #27, Technique can be taught, talent cannot. Teachers need to be leaders, taskmasters, problem solvers, disciplinarians (unfortunately) and empathetic all at the same time. Some of these traits are innate; you can’t train someone to teach like they give a damn, they just have to care.

Mar. 19 2010 01:09 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Voter #26: I agree completely that if a teacher, like any other professional resists learning techniques that are proven to make him/her successful, he/she should be let go. However, I don't think we have tried hard enough to find out specifically what makes a teacher succeed and then replicate that. Almost nothing is inborn, everyone has to learn how to do what they do.

Mar. 19 2010 12:44 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

#24 MC, just like any other profession, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them… then there’re the ones just treading water and the ones who simply have no business in the profession.
You serve the students best by removing teachers who do not either have the natural born talent to be good educators, are resistant to learning how to be a good educator even in the face of adversity, or when given the options to lead, follow, or get out of the way, they opt to get out of the way.
Look at teachers the same way you look at politicians; constituents are a fickle bunch. Do you propose politicians remain in office for life while we focus on examining why they fail us given all the fickleness they have to balance?

Mar. 19 2010 12:24 PM
mc from Brooklyn

DBA: I agree that teachers do not have control over where their students come from or what their living environments are like, but I am unwilling to accept the idea that they can't move the needle at all because of this. I think a good teacher can cure some of these problems but there is far too much talk about simply firing anyone who does not succeed rather than figuring out why some succeed and some don't.

Mar. 19 2010 12:12 PM
mc from Brooklyn

#20 Voter: Didn't you ever wonder how excellent teachers got that way? Do you think they are born or taught? How do you define a failing teacher and how do you serve the students by "culling" them rather than examining why they are failing?

Mar. 19 2010 12:09 PM

Part III:

The first step to close the achievement gap between whites and African-Americans be the decrease of the 70% out-of-wedlock statistics for black children. Such children who are born to single and poor mothers and are deprived of a stable home environment where there is structure, discipline and parental involvement in education, as well as the cognitive stimulation that is so critical in the pre-school years. Teachers have no control over the problems that these children must face under such circumstances in the environment they live in, and which interfere with subsequent learning in elementary through high school years, ultimately leading to poor test results and drop out rates. The Race to the Top money and other funding would be better spent on building boarding schools for impoverished children to extract them from their dysfunctional environments, and where they can benefit in a structured, disciplined setting with personal attention and guidance.

Mar. 19 2010 11:57 AM

Part II:

So, stop blaming the teachers and the unions. Never does the discussion address student and parental accountability to assume their responsibility for consistent attendance, doing homework and studying. We hear constant lamentations about high school dropouts, especially among minorities. No one has forced them to abandon education. Considering the struggles of those who bravely fought to integrate schools over 50 years ago, it is a disgrace that so many today are recklessly squandering the results of their sacrifices and what these civil rights activists had endured. Where is the parental discipline to keep them in school? School readiness begins at home, during infancy and is a continuous process that leads to cognitive development when parents interact with their infants, read to them and so forth. By the time such cognitively undeveloped children enter the first grade, they are already at such a disadvantage that it's nearly impossible to ever catch up.

Mar. 19 2010 11:57 AM

Part I:

When was the last time that any of bloviating pundits and administration officials, starting with Arne Duncan, have ever spent time actually teaching instead of pontificating, especially in low SES (socio-economic status) schools? Student performance is linked to socio-economic status and thereby education level of the parents, who tend to be more involved in their children's education. This is not necessarily the fault of low SES parents who may simply not have the necessary skills and tools themselves. Children are not robots on an assembly line that can be managed through some kind of quality control mechanism to weed out and fix defective products. Therefore, business model concepts such as merit pay, linking teacher pay to so-called test performance will only penalize teachers who teach populations that are exposed to social factors over which teachers have absolutely no control. Teachers of high SES will be more likely to gain merit pay due to the populations they teach. You can be the best teacher, but if a child does not do homework, study and read at home after school, that wonderful instruction will be to no avail.

Mar. 19 2010 11:56 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#17, I’m not proposing union busting, but the union’s proposal of paychecks without consequence (since it is one of the largest state and local government expenditures) is a non-starter for me.
I agree with your next two sentences but disagree with the last. Let’s cull the failing teachers the same way charters cull the failing students and give good and excellent teachers as much support as we can.

Mar. 19 2010 11:50 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#16, The problem with charters are that they siphon off the best or “easiest to teach” students. Charters are under no obligation to teach your child, it is the equivalent of “firing” all children that aren’t performing as desired. Conversely, public schools, with little exception, must take your child. Basically, charters are as much state sponsored and sanctioned segregation as they are oasis of learning for students willing to. (Besides, from studies I’ve heard, only a marginal number of charters opt perform public schools)

Mar. 19 2010 11:45 AM

Instead of looking at solely at the teachers why not look at their bosses - the administration, the Board of Ed & Superintendent who are in charge??? Accountability needs to begin there and curriculum development. Some general respect & value for education wouldn't hurt either.

Several teachers begin with advanced and progressive teaching skills yet once it comes to practice, they have to follow what the adminitration says.

Mar. 19 2010 11:40 AM
mc from Brooklyn

#13 Voter: It seems to me that busting the union and firing everyone does not lead to better outcomes. Instead, we should be figuring out why particular teachers are successful. Make videos of them, have student teachers spend a lot more time in the classroom, observed in a constructive way by experienced, successful teachers. Observation as it happens now is too adversarial. Let's make the failing teachers into good teachers.

Mar. 19 2010 11:36 AM
Ed from East Village

When I hear teachers blame everything on the parents my reaction is that those teachers are the ones we should FIRE first.

Also, why shouldn't kids who want to succeed go to charter schools? I guess the teacher's union wants "all kids left behind".

Mar. 19 2010 11:30 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

and this is not a class/economic issue either.
i live in a poor chinese neighborhood- these people are dirt poor but they CARE about their children and fully take advantage of the free education given to their kids.

Mar. 19 2010 11:30 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Caller made a good point. What is the best predictor of student performance? Poverty or lack thereof. Until we all decide to take on poverty we will never solve the education or the health care problems.

Mar. 19 2010 11:30 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#10, Teachers don’t have control over probably 75% or more of what goes into educating a child (their home life and the attitude they come into the classroom with); however, the union’s position seems to be “give me a job, give me raises, give me benefits, give me unquestioned job security, and stay out of my way regardless how excellent or abominable my job performance may be.” Do you not see the flaw in that logic. The teacher’s union doesn’t want to be accountable to anyone. Teaching is a tough job, but it should not be one without consequence for poor performance. Otherwise just let them stay home collecting a check and phoning it in.

Mar. 19 2010 11:29 AM
mc from Brooklyn

We do not expect doctors to perform without lot of clinical and hands-on training. Why would we expect this of our teachers? There are well-meaning, intelligent 23 year olds who are put in front of a classroom full of twitchy 11 year olds on their first days. They often have no idea how to begin.

Mar. 19 2010 11:27 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

anyone ever see "hard times at douglass high"-hbo documentary? this is a very well made film that really says it all, in my opinion.....yes, there are some bad teachers but their hands are tied most of the time with kids that are unteachable because of their home lives.

Mar. 19 2010 11:27 AM
Juan from White plains NY

What about parental responsibility?
parent need to make sure children eat, go to sleep early, and be prepare for school.
As a parent, I think not enough importance is given to parenatal resposibility.

Too many minority children to get the support from the parents and from theirs schools to make it in this very difficulty and challenging times.

We need gourps to educate support and get parents more involved in the their children education. This is the no parent left behind act!

Mar. 19 2010 11:23 AM
Stephen from Scarsdale

Isn't putting the blame of education reform on the teachers wrong. I think the problem is with how parents in America are raising their children, especially during the development years.

Mar. 19 2010 11:21 AM
Merrill from NY,NY

I was educated in a wealthy school district and volunteer in my church in East Orange and deal with youth. My experience is: more creative teaching and testing in the wealthier schools; more standardization and memorization and just doing your homework in the poorer schools. I think this was going on well before the "No Child left behind program."

Mar. 19 2010 11:20 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Masters degrees and knowledge of subject content have proven to be poor predictors of student performance.

Mar. 19 2010 11:19 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

how can arnie duncan include parents into the circle of responsibility? it's ALL about the parents.

Mar. 19 2010 11:17 AM
Kathleen from manhattan

Does your guest think that education industry lobbyists will prevail and that the SES tutoring programs currently required will remain in place?

Mar. 19 2010 11:16 AM
mc from Brooklyn

There was a very good article in last Sunday's NY TImes magazine. It presents the thesis that teachers often do not know what to do to improve and that there may be techniques that need to be explicitly taught, and are not taught now. Wholesale firing looks to me like a model for depressing the numbers of people willing to go into this profession.

Mar. 19 2010 11:15 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Teachers are the only people I know that believe actual individual job performance should have no bearing whatsoever on promotions, raises, tenure (employment for life) and firing and that the only measure that should matter is seniority.

Mar. 19 2010 11:13 AM
Bob from Manhattan

Let's be clear: the rhetoric has ALWAYS been that teachers don't get enough support, their hands are tied, they're not responsible for anything, and they shouldn't be measured or assessed.

Yet, I think REAL teachers (rather than union deadwood) are more than willing to step up and take responsibility for their pupils' succcess.

Mar. 19 2010 11:12 AM
Merrill from NY,NY

Transition from previous episode: "No Child left Behind" better describes the sad deportations of undocumented parents rather than the Bush educational program.

Mar. 19 2010 11:06 AM

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