Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Spellings Report: Live From South Bend, Indiana

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings gave a commencement speech the other day to graduates of a Master's program at Notre Dame University. This particular quote caught my eye:
When I hear people say they don't think it's possible to have every student reading and doing math on grade level, I always wonder... does that mean they're volunteering their child to be left behind? I certainly don't want that for my daughters, and I'm pretty sure most parents agree. I know you do, too.

In public education, it used to be acceptable to let some kids fall through the cracks. If a school wasn't living up to its responsibilities, parents had no other options.

But with No Child Left Behind, President Bush and the Congress led our nation in a commitment to have every child learning on grade level by 2014.

This law is holding States and schools accountable for achieving that goal ― and when they don't, it gives parents more choices ― like free tutoring, or the ability to transfer their child to a better-performing school. In Washington, DC, we've given almost 1,700 low-income students the chance to attend the private or parochial school of their choice... and we're working to provide similar options for students elsewhere.
As usual, Washington's EduCrat-in-Chief lays responsibility solely on the nation's public schools for getting every single child in America at or above grade level proficiency in reading, math, and science.

And, as is always the case, Spellings makes no mention whatsoever of the parents' responsibility to ensure that their children are properly fed, rested, and at least put-forth some effort to do their assigned school and home work.

In the World of Spellings and her other Ivory-tower-never-have-or-never-would-work-with-children-in-a-classroom-non-teaching-teaching-experts, whenever a child doesn't achieve the mandated level of proficiency, it's automatically the school's (translation: people who work in schools) fault.

Even though many of the factors that may contribute to a particular child's failure are beyond the control, (or even the influence) of the school.

In the surreal post-NCLB world of the Washington EduCrat, parents who don't parent and students who don't even attempt to do their school work are never held accountable for their counterproductive behaviors.

Only those who actually work with children each and every school day are ever "held accountable" when children don't achieve the level of mastery mandated by Washington's distant-from-the-reality-of-today's-classroom politicians and ivory-tower educrats.

Is it any wonder that so many dedicated young people who enter the teaching profession abandon it within five years, never to return?

Why doesn't Spellings and the rest of the Washington EduCracy address the much more difficult challenge of getting great people to devote themselves to classroom teaching and staying there?

But then again, that would involve actually making teaching an attractive career choice for our best and most talented young (and not-so-young) people.

And making a job better isn't the sort of thing that Washington does nowadays.
See our latest education-related entries right here.