GOP Senate Fails to Protect Schoolkids from Big Brother

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0 BR)
Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0 BR)

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are considering legislation to reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the major federal K-12 education law.  The House and Senate leadership are intent on ramming through a reauthorization of NCLB.  They want to claim that they fixed the problems with the original bill.  However, these bills are horrible.  Here are just a few of the problems:

  • They continue the federal testing mandates telling the states in what grades and in what subjects children must be subjected to standardized tests (assessments). Such mandates create the teaching-to-the test pressure on teachers.  Furthermore, they do not have instructional value, deprive students of enormous instructional time, and cost the states a huge amount of money.
  • They dictate particular types of testing that are extraordinarily expensive, have a history of failure, and are designed to inject more intrusive psychological data-collection and psychological profiling/manipulation into the standardized tests.
  • They maintain NCLB’s requirement that the state assessments produce not just test scores, but “individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports.” Moreover, unlike NCLB, the bills require assessment on behavioral/skills-based standards rather than truly academic standards. The data produced under this language could resemble a psychological profile of the student.
  • They remove protection against socio-emotional profiling in the statewide assessments (eliminating NCLB’s prohibition against including assessment items that “evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes”) and fail to protect against other psychological data-gathering in other federal education programs.

The House and Senate leadership assure their members and the American people that the bill has language prohibiting federal intrusion into state and local decision-making.  However, they omit some critical facts: that language largely replicates existing law, and like existing law, it provides no enforcement mechanism or remedies for the states or the people!

Leadership fails to even respond to the testing problems and collection of personal student information.

If they pass, these bills will be a millstone around the necks of Senators and congressmen who supported it.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.