UNKEPT PROMISES OF NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
release] "Cambridge, MA--June 14, 2006--The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University (CRP) released today a new study that
reports the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) hasn't improved reading and mathematical achievement or reduced achievement
In the New York Times Magazine article, "What It Takes to Make a Student," it is noted that, nationwide, almost no
progress has been made in closing the racial gap in reading proficiency, as measured by a federal testing program, The National
Assessment of Educational Progress. And the public school system moved farther from, and not closer to the goal of 100% proficiency
in reading set by the 2001 federal education bill known as "No Child Left Behind." See excerpts below, under the same heading
THE REVERSE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
Over a period of nearly 4 decades after World War II, the test score gap
between white and black students was being closed, narrowing quickly in the 1970s and early 1980s. Differences in average
reading scores on National Assessment of Educational Progress exams between black and white 13 year olds decreased by about
50% from 1970 to 1988. However, since the late 1980s, most of the progress in closing that reading test score gap has been
reversed. - Source: The New Crisis (NAACP magazine), Sept/Oct 2001, "Long Division," p. 25-31, graph on page 28.
SEPARATE BUT EQUAL?
In my opinion, the widening racial test score gap is mostly an effect of
changes in the school system: The schools have been getting more segregated by race and class, and more unequal.
the 1980s, most racially segregated school systems were released from court federal court supervision, and neighborhood
school plans, which made schools less integrated racially, were permitted by Departments of Education at the federal and state
level. And as the schools became more segregated racially, they became more unequal in terms of educational input. The Minneapolis
School District, for example, drove up teacher turnover rates in schools where African-American students were over-represented
while maintaining an extremely stable teaching force in schools serving the district's predominantly white neighborhoods.
This disparity in teacher turnover rates has been the byproduct of a job bidding system that allows a high concentration
of low-seniority teachers to exist in schools where low-income and "minority" students are over-represented. Turnover of low-seniority
teachers has been jacked up by sending lay off notices to teachers who don't need to be laid off.
Under Minnesota and
US law, school districts are allowed to maintain racially segregated schools and school programs so long as schools / school
programs where students of color are over-represented have educational inputs comparable to schools where whites are over-represented.
No Child Left Behind calls for states to equalize their educational facilities. Minnesota's Desegregation Rule expressly
permits racially segregated school systems so long as "racially identifiable," i.e., predominantly nonwhite schools, have
educational inputs comparable to schools that are not racially identifiable. However, this new, updated, "separate but equal"
doctrine, is remarkably similar to the old "separate but equal" doctrine: Institutionalized racial discrimination is proscribed
on paper but permitted in practice.
"What It Takes to Make a Student"
By PAUL TOUGH
November 26, 2006
The New York Times Magazine
[All capitalized letter headings inserted by Doug Mann]
UNKEPT PROMISES OF NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
despite the glowing reports from the White House and the Education Department, the most recent iteration of the National Assessment
of Educational Progress, the test of fourth- and eighth-grade students commonly referred to as the nation’s report card,
is not reassuring. In 2002, when No Child Left Behind went into effect, 13 percent of the nation’s black eighth-grade
students were “proficient” in reading, the assessment’s standard measure of grade-level competence. By 2005
(the latest data), that number had dropped to 12 percent. (Reading proficiency among white eighth-grade students dropped to
39 percent, from 41 percent.) The gap between economic classes isn't disappearing, either: in 2002, 17 percent of poor eighth-grade
students(measured by eligibility for free or reduced-price school lunches) were proficient in reading; in 2005, that number
fell to 15 percent.
The most promising indications in the national test could be found in the fourth-grade math results,
in which the percentage of poor students at the proficient level jumped to 19 percent in 2005, from 8 percent in 2000; for
black students, the number jumped to 13 percent, from 5 percent. This was a significant increase, but it was still far short
of the proficiency figure for white students, which rose to 47 percent in 2005, and it was a long way from 100 percent.
REVERSE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
In the years after World War II, and especially after the civil rights reforms of the
1960s, black Americans’ standardized-test scores improved steadily and significantly, compared with those of whites.
But at some point in the late 1980s, after decades of progress, the narrowing of the gap stalled, and between 1988 and 1994
black reading scores actually fell by a sizable amount on the national assessment. What had appeared to be an inexorable advance
toward equality had run out of steam, and African-American schoolchildren seemed to be stuck well behind their white peers.
SEPARATE BUT EQUAL?
Right now, of course, they [low income students] are not getting more than middle-class
students; they are getting less. For instance, nationwide, the best and most experienced teachers are allowed to choose where
they teach. And since most state contracts offer teachers no bonus or incentive for teaching in a school with a high population
of needy children, the best teachers tend to go where they are needed the least. A study that the Education Trust issued in
June used data from Illinois to demonstrate the point. Illinois measures the quality of its teachers and divides their scores
into four quartiles, and those numbers show glaring racial inequities. In majority-white schools, bad teachers are rare: just
11 percent of the teachers are in the lowest quartile. But in schools with practically no white students, 88 percent of the
teachers are in the worst quartile. The same disturbing pattern holds true in terms of poverty. At schools where more than
90 percent of the students are poor — where excellent teachers are needed the most — just 1 percent of teachers
are in the highest quartile.
[End of quoted material]