“Most bad government has grown out of too much government.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
Just a snippet of No Child Left Behind: Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools were required to meet AYP or face increasingly severe penalties for failure. Consequences of not meeting AYP for Schools Receiving Title I Funds: Without going into tedious detail, first parents are alerted there is trouble and the school has to make a plan to improve and seek help. If the situation continues the following year, the school notifies parents. The school then must develop and implement a school improvement plan that has been submitted to its district for approval. The district submits the plan to state and county departments of education. The school must provide supplemental services to students who can’t hit the target. If the situation continues for another year, the school must offer a choice of alternative school if one is available.
The government is now giving waivers to schools who did not meet targets, since the deadline has leapt upon us and we are mired in scores that don’t come close to the goals. My favorite target demanded that virtually all special education students reach grade level by 2014.
TAXPAYERS! Ask yourselves — How many new government employees and/or contractors are working on these “improvement plans” by now? I imagine a small country’s worth. If you read the requirements carefully, you will see that bloating of the bureaucracy was inevitable.
Yet despite our increasingly-swollen educational bureaucracies, minimal improvements — if any — can be conclusively documented. We can show score improvements in some areas, often unsustained, but we can’t account for the knowledge drain that occurred to get those improvements. How often has science and social studies been sacrificed to teach students what is on the state test? Geography has pretty much been axed, that’s for sure.
I don’t know if scores went up the year I explained to a high school student that Tacoma was a city, not a country.