NCLB Odds and Ends…And Special Bonus "Trends In Partial Hunger Strikes!"

The NCLB circus got going yesterday, NPR’s Larry Abramsom gets under the big top and rounds that up well. Also at NPR, my take on the big choice Congress faces as they move forward on the bill.

I hadn’t been aware that Jonathan Kozol has been engaged in a “partial” hunger strike* over No Child Left Behind but apparently he is. Not to make light of the gravity of the protest, but isn’t that also just called a diet? One HuffPo commenter asks, “As for your partial fast, why not try some partial self immolation? A partial fast makes about as much sense as being a little bit pregnant.”

Over at Ed Week, Russo says the NEA is basically content with this bill. Is he joking? Here is their press release. And here is the key AP story. David Hoff tells you what you need to know on the teacher pay aspect of all this.

Meanwhile, the AFTies, who have said all along they want to fix NCLB but not gut it and are rightly considered more serious on this stuff than the NEA have put out their gripe list, which could certainly look to a reasonable observer like they want to gut the bill. I agree with some of their concerns, for instance about NCLB’s tutoring provisions, which are not getting the thoughtful overhaul they need in any of these proposals, but overall if you read between the lines this works against not for real accountability with consequences.

It could well be that it’s all the kids and demographics and nothing wrong with the system, I just don’t think the evidence supports that position. Also worth noting from the AFTie letter, big fight brewing on the “comparability” provisions. They are one of those things that clearly illustrate that no matter how much you want to romanticize it, some things can’t be good for both the adults in the system and the kids it is supposed to serve. I don’t think that closing the comparability loophole will lead to forced transfers, that’s more or less a red herring. But, if enforced, it would lead to a lot of changes in local policy and practice around teacher assignment and incentives. A lot more on that issue at the Ed Trust and Ed Trust West sites.

So, one macro, and in the eduworld politically incorrect, observation along the lines of this piece. The views of practitioners should matter to policymaking, a lot, and be heard and considered by policymakers. But they should not be controlling. There is no other field where we consider stakeholder input to be the final word. Truckers know a lot about trucking but we still regulate them, pilots, too, and doctors, investment bankers, etc…about their industries. And they are all good people for the most part, as well, but we’ve come to a healthy realization that those industries need some regulation. Put more bluntly, we don’t gauge whether gun control and gun safety legislation is any good by whether or not the National Rifle Association likes it. And we’re right not to. The NCLB debate that’s going to play out over the next few months (years?) during reauthorization will tell us a lot about how close we are to that realization in our industry. George Miller obviously gets it but can he carry the day?

*Update: Michael Goldstein provides some essential background on this trend:

Famous Partial Hunger Strikes in Recent K-12 History

*President Bush won’t “fully fund” No Child Left Behind. Ted Kennedy gives up soda in his scotch-and-soda.
*Checker Finn writes “Not By Geeks Alone.” Gates Foundation eliminates Chicken Stroganoff from menu on new campus.

*Steve Barr asks if LA Union chief AJ Duffy is a pigf**cker. Duffy gives up bacon for a week.

Update II: The AFTies discuss yesterday’s hearing here and NYT reports here.

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