Mar 7, 2005
This year, the Los Angeles school district is required by the "No Child Left Behind" law to "take action" at nine schools that have missed their annual test score "targets" seven years in a row.
What kind of action will this be? Make class size smaller for the students who don't do well? Provide extra tutorial programs to these students? Provide funding for more books and the improvement of the school facilities?
These are the kinds of "action" a district would take if it wanted to help the children that are falling behind – as the name of the law would suggest.
But no, these are not the measures "No Child Left Behind" proposes. Instead, the law proposes nothing but different types of punishment: replacing the teachers and administrators of these schools; placing the schools under the direct control of the state or closing the schools and reopening them as "charter schools."
And sure enough, the L.A. Board of Education says it is considering firing the entire staff of not only nine but 19 high schools whose test scores have not improved enough to reach the "targets." The teachers and administrators of these schools will then have to reapply for their jobs. Board members are also talking about dividing up the schools and having part of them run by a charter school. So the same people who say there is not enough money for schools are ready to privatize schools and dish out profits to charter school operators – when test scores actually show that charter schools, overall, do worse on these standardized tests than public schools.
Deny funding to schools, especially those in working-class neighborhoods, then make them compete in "standardized tests," punish the schools that finish last (as some must), and use this set-up as a way to provide profits to charter school operators: it's quite a scheme – except that it has nothing to do with educating children.