Arne Duncan, the nation’s most ignorant education policy maker who’s not Bill Gates, has outdone himself. The stupidity pouring out of Duncan’s office shows why “reformers,” and Duncan in particular, have no business making education policy. For example…
THE MAGIC OF HIGH EXPECTATIONS
According to the U.S. DOE, if we would only have high expectations then even children with learning disabilities can learn to read or cypher at “grade level.”
Michael “I’m-an-attorney-not-a-teacher” Yudin wrote the blog post describing the U.S. DOE’s position on the achievement of students with disabilities. In it he claims that
…fewer than 10 percent of eighth graders with disabilities are proficient in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Too often, students’ educational opportunities are limited by low expectations.
Just think about Yudin’s statement for a moment.
Fewer than ten percent of students with learning disabilities can’t overcome those disabilities and become proficient in reading or math. Pardon me for stating the obvious, but doesn’t the first part of that statement encompass the definition of “disability?” High expectations are important…and most educators working with students with disabilities have high expectations for their students…but high expectations alone aren’t enough.
This certainly fits in with the philosophy that the way to get all students to read at grade level is to just, you know, make them do it. Insist real hard. If we believe that we can get a student with a second grade reading skill read at the fifth grade level by just somehow making him do it, why can’t we make a dyslexic student or student with other processing difficulties read at level by just expecting her to? “Stop pretending you’re blind, Jimmy, and read this book right now!”
THE MYSTERY OF “SUPPORT”
To be fair, the U.S. Department of Education seems to give lip-service to the belief that “high expectations” aren’t enough to bring students up to “grade level.” They need “support,” too.
We must do everything we can to support states, school districts, and educators to improve results for students with disabilities.
Problem solved. With sufficient support and high expectations children with disabilities can become “undisabled.”
But what defines “doing everything we can to support?” Does the DOE know how to magically eliminate dyslexia, for example? If so, why haven’t they shared that with the rest us?
Does “doing everything we can to support” mean providing extra funds just to states which promise to evaluate teachers on test scores and build more charter schools…or does it mean providing funds where it is needed most?
If the U.S. DOE doesn’t fund “support” and states keep cutting back on public education (in favor of privately run charter schools and vouchers for private and parochial schools), then who is responsible for “support?”
SHARE THE BLAME
In the end, is “support” limited to blasting away at teachers until they have “high expectations” and if students with disabilities can’t “pass the test” do we continue to just blame teachers?
Arne Duncan doesn’t think so. He wants the blame to be shared by teachers and the colleges and universities that prepare them (more on that at a later date).
In the meantime, teachers, it’s up to you to make sure all your students are at “grade level” through the magic of “high expectations.”
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.