More Utah…And, Interpret With Caution

Fairtest’s NoTest’s man at the NYT, Sam Dillon, returns to Utah in Sunday’s paper for a look at what folks there think of the law. Obviously a lot of them don’t like it, hence Utah’s strange stature as a “progressive” cause these days. But, based on the last Utah foray, interpret the story with caution. Via Kausfiles, this from last February:

No Bias Left Behind! Compare the New York Times’ account of a Utah meeting in which federal officials sought to calm fears about the No Child Left Behind Act (“Bush Education Officials Find New Law a Tough Sell”) to the account in the local paper (“No Child Left Behind Comes Into Focus”). Predictably, the Times missed this part of the story:

Afterwards, some parents and minority advocates said they didn’t want things to change too much. The law forces schools to confront weaknesses, said Karen Duffy, a University of Utah researcher who studies education issues for American Indians.

American Indians have long lagged behind their classmates, she said, and the school system has failed to solve the problem. “This law is about the only hope they have,” she said.

More to the point, thankfully buried deep (6 grafs from the bottom a 28 graf article) in Sunday’s story is the nut of the issue:

Utah’s main goal, however, is to gain federal approval to use the state’s own testing and school accountability program instead of the federal system. But Ms. Spellings has said that a non-negotiable feature is the law’s requirement that test results be broken down by student groups, so that parents and other can identify when minority, white and other student groups are achieving at different levels.

Utah does not break down test results by student groups. Last weekend, Mr. Huntsman met with Ms. Spellings, while Mr. Bridgewater and Dr. Harrington met separately with several of the secretary’s aides. But the federal officials did not budge on Utah’s request to use its own accountability system, Mr. Bridgewater said.

Right, against disaggregation….very progressive…they also like tax credits (another really progressive idea, just great for poor people….) and vouchers out there, too. The strange bedfellows NCLB foes are willing to make in their frantic quest to discredit the law are leading them down a path to a place they’re not going to like…No NLCB doesn’t mean a return to the old days of business as usual…

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