Learning v achievement

boy taking testThe Sun-Times’ Esther Cepeda wrote a thoughtful column yesterday about the changes to NCLB/ESEA proposed by President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform. She’s hopeful that a refocusing of the law’s mission will undo some of the damage caused by NCLB’s relentless focus on math and reading test scores:

(B)y the time I stood at the front of my own classroom and was
finishing up my master’s in education in the early 2000s, it seemed the
overriding educational goal of policymakers, administrators and not a
few teachers was to create lifelong achievers. And not necessarily high
achievers mind you, but kids who could sit quietly and do well enough
on standardized tests to achieve adequate yearly progress.

I don’t really share her optimism, which is based on the addition of arts, sciences and social studies and a new goal of making every student “college and career ready” as opposed to just proficient on math and reading tests. Since standardized tests will likely remain the prime measure of any of these new goals, things are only going to continue down the path that she describes above. 

I do agree with her overall sentiment that we have lost the true purpose of education. Cepeda contrasts the federal law with the mission statements of her alma maters, for example:

Roosevelt University, which trained me as a teacher, says it is
“dedicated to the enlightenment of the human spirit.” Its aim is to
prepare “diverse graduates for responsible citizenship in a global

She adds that programs based on these kinds of goals are the only ones that will truly create new jobs and move this country ahead. NCLB or the new ESEA are dead ends that will rob our children of their future. 

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.