Plus 3! Or, The Sky Is Falling

So AFTie John sees this Newsweek story* on field trips and immediately, like the story, sees a villain in No Child Left Behind:

Say what you will about NCLB…but you sure see a lot more news stories like this one since NCLB was passed.

Or do you? Perhaps it depends on your definition of “a lot.”

The old field trip story is a perennial favorite. In Washington, this is the Washington Monument gambit. If the Park Service might get their budget cut they don’t tell the press about any obscure cuts, they say, “we’ll have to close the Washington Monument!” In fact, by way of an interesting side note, this is one reason the Federal Government moved to a budget from the president in 1921 when the Bureau of the Budget (now known as OMB) was established. That way different agencies couldn’t come hat in hand to Congress halfway through the year and argue that without more money they couldn’t buy bullets, deliver mail, etc…(though it still happens because of the nature of the budget process). School districts, for their part, don’t talk about places they might be able to cut without impacting instruction, they say things like, “no field trips!” But, in this case you never know, after all schools are doing some counterproductive things in response to NCLB.

So, turns out that from 1991-2001, a quick and dirty Nexis search turns up 62 articles on field trips being cut back. Remember, those were the halcyon days before No Child Left Behind was passed and ruined everything. Since 2002 when it was passed 60 stories. Now math wizzes that you are you’re saying, sure Eduwonk, but that’s 62 stories over a decade and 60 in only about 6 years. And you’re right! But wait, there is more….18 of those post-2002 stories are about field trips being cut because of concerns about the D.C. snipers or the Iraq invasion, post-NCLB events but hardly caused by the law. Bummer. But NCLB-haters, don’t despair! 22 of the stories pre-2002 were about field trips being cut in response to the 9-11 attacks. You’re back in business! It’s a friggin’ NCLB-caused field trip epidemic:

40 stories in the decade prior to NCLB, and 42 since it was passed. He’s right, that’s an increase…4 stories a year in the decade before NCLB, seven stories a year since the law was passed….that’s approaching one a month in a newspaper somewhere! AFTie John was so right…it’s a pandemic really.

More seriously, state and local budget issues and budget cuts are the primary cause of field trip cut backs and that’s hard to seriously lay at the feet of NCLB though it hardly stops people from doing it.

*By the way, the Newsweek story would be more convincing if it looked more at (a) the budget angle which it only really flirts at and (b) didn’t quote teachers from Texas, a state that had annual assessments and all the major characteristics of No Child Left Behind before, you know, No Child Left Behind.

2 Replies to “Plus 3! Or, The Sky Is Falling”

  1. Our school cancelled several major field trips in 2001….because of 9/11, not NCLB.

    Also, NYC public schools have a policy about taking kids across bridges. Like, no kids can cross bridges on field trips in post 9/11. Kids in Queens in elementary school can’t go to Manhattan museums.

  2. Not referencing NCLB, but the general impact of the ed climate in NYC, where the true outcome of Bloomberg/Klein policies are being felt. That old villain, Bloated Unresponsive Bureaucracies has reared its ugly head. From Leonie Haimson on the nyceducation news listserve:

    1. While the Mayor claims that his proposed cuts of more than $500 million over two years will have “no impact whatsoever” on our schools, see this Daily News article today: Teachers’ furor over slashed budget about what the mid-year cuts are already doing to schools in Queens.

    Some examples: larger classes, no money for substitute teachers so students have to sit in the auditorium with no teachers at all, elimination of academic intervention services. See also article in Sunday’s NY Times, Citywide Scissors, Bloodletting in the Neighborhood, which reveals the devastating effects on class size and services at a school in Brooklyn, PS. 308.

    On the impact on schools on Staten Island see here: Cuts clobber school programs.There’s more from principals about the awful choices they are facing right now on the InsideSchools blog.

    2. Meanwhile, see today’s NY Post: SCHOOLS COMPUTER AN $80M ‘DISASTER’ with teachers and principals unable to log into the superexpensive supercomputer. And NY1’s Mike Meenan reveals that DOE now admits to only cutting $15 million at headquarters – instead of $70 million as originally reported.
    “There’s really frustration that we’re not seeing cuts at the bureaucracy level. The number they revealed today, $15 million, is quite small,” said [Patrick] Sullivan, [Manhattan rep to the PEP]

    The administration has also backtracked on their promise of a hiring freeze at Tweed. Instead, there’s something called a “head count reduction plan.” See Klein stumble on the NY 1 video while explaining what this means:

    “Klein says that means taking a hard look before filling an open job at DOE headquarters “These vacancies can’t be filled until we need a critical assessment,” said Klein.

    Yeah, right. Incompetent administrators, supercomputers that don’t work, massive amounts spent on testing and “data inquiry teams” in every school without access to the data, while classes grow in size and kids have to make do without critical services. In reality, even the minimal $15 million Tweed now admits to cutting is partially illusory, since a good portion of these savings actually result from the failure of the contractor to produce all of the interim assessments on time.

    I guess the Mayor is partly right: these cuts are likely to have “no impact whatsoever” on the overpaid “educrats” at Tweed. While in the suburbs, superintendents and school boards are planning to protect the quality of their kids’ education by raising property taxes, here in NYC the administration would rather see schools cut back while protecting the bloated bureaucracy and reinstituting property tax breaks.

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