Subscribe to SLJ
Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

How Do We Define Excellence In Education?

One More Nail in the NCLB Coffin

Did you catch this article today, A school district in Brownsville, Texas won the most important national prize for "excellence" urban education, while having failed to meet NCLB standards for two years. And there you have it — educational outcomes that, by one measure, define "excellence" by another measure are substandard. Now theoretically urban education could be so terrible that compared to the field a failing school would be not so bad. But that is not what the the judges said. Rather they praised the district for doing a better job than others which had similar populations. 

This article is similar to the one I listed her the other day, about the huge improvement schools are mandated to achieve under NCLB — which are impossible to achieve. The problem is that these rough measures — these numerical lines in the sand — probably have been useful in serving to challenge disticts and set goals. But they are not actually a good measure of how individual schools are educating their students. 

I don’t need to tell this to many of you, and given the challenges a new congress will face — with a smaller budget and so many demands on its attention — NCLB probably cannot be overhauled any time soon. But when I read articles like this it just offends my sense of right, of sanity. I guess it is the progressive school kid in me — if rules and regulations make no sense, I see no reason to follow them. My wife, who went to public school, reminds me that the rule makers control the purse strings. Then all we can do is to protest, and point out their irrationality.