The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

California Schools Bullied … by the U.S. Dept. of Education!

Sep 16, 2013

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is threatening to withhold federal funds from California schools for violating federal law. The federal funds Duncan is threatening to withhold amount to as much as 10 per cent of a school district’s budget in California.

But this federal law Duncan says California is violating – what law is it?

Why, it’s good-old No Child Left Behind (NCLB), of course! Yes, that impossible Bush-era law which requires every student of a school, including those with disabilities and limited English, to score “proficient” on standardized English and Math tests by 2014 (this school year, that is). That brutal law which says that schools “failing” on this basis can be shut down, their students thrown to the wind, and their entire staff fired.

Duncan himself has been freeing states from the unreasonable “100 per cent proficiency” requirement. But not all states and districts – only those who agreed to tie teachers’ evaluations (employment and pay, that is) to the results of the same tests NCLB uses!

It is crazy: California is planning to suspend state testing only for this school year, because it is changing the curriculum standards – to fit Obama’s and Duncan’s Race to the Top program!

But Duncan wants California schools to continue to administer tests based on the old standards. He threatens schools with closure, and teachers with their jobs, if their students fail the old NCLB tests – tests that teachers are not even supposed to be preparing their students for anymore!

Duncan can’t decide which set of impossible standards to apply – NCLB’s or RTT’s!