Saturday, April 12, 2014

K: Key #AtoZChallenge

Speaking at the LBJ Presidential Library on the 50th anniversary
of the signing of the Civil Rights Act former president George W. Bush said

"I fear the soft bigotry of low expectations is returning, and for the sake of America's children, that is something we cannot allow."

Then Bush said this:

"Whatever difficulties we face, they will not be erased by weakening accountability."

There you have it, folks. The irony of ironies. George W. Bush says the key to student success is----wait for it-------TESTING. That's what accountability in the mind of George W. Bush means. While the current standards movement has its origins in 1983's A Nation at Risk, George W. Bush single-handedly brought us the  current testing mania via No Child Left Behind, which sadly and ironically is better than its replacement, Race to the Top. 

In his speech, Bush lauded "accountability" as the way to guarantee poor and minority children receive an equal education to those of affluent white children. Really? 

  • Not a word about crumbling schools buildings. 
  • Not a word about the low status of teachers, which arguably George W. Bush is most responsible for in recent years.
  • Not a word about inequality in funding education, which in most places is based on property taxes.
  • Not a word about equal access to technology and "smart" schools. 
  • Not a word about the widening poverty gap that increasingly works to create a "pseudo-Victorian" society in 21st Century America.
  • Not a word about the inherent bigotry of standardized testing, which I began researching as a high school student in the mid-1970s.
  • Not a word about the huge expenditures for administering the tests. 
The only equal access Bush cares about is TESTING. 

There are many keys to equal education for poor and minority students, and "accountability" as defined by George W. Bush, is not one of them. 

Keys to understanding the way Bush's lauded accountability movement locks poor and minority students out of equal access and the way it increasingly erodes access for middle-class students abound. Here are some:
There are many others, but these three are a great start. The mainstream media does very little to tell the real truth about the accountability movement and Bush's legacy. George W. Bush is no LBJ. For that he needs to be held accountable.

*Update: After this post went live, Diane Ravitch addressed the problems w/ assessing teachers based on standardized test scores in a post titled "Breaking News: American Statistical Association Issues Caution on Use of VAM."


  1. Sometimes just random brainstorming is the impetus needed to get us going in our writing yours here! Again thanks for stopping by on my blog in this A-Z challenge!

  2. You go! I agree with you. In the early 1980s I did research for an education paper and was surprised to learn that many of the problems we had in the 1980s, of which a couple you mentioned, were the same problems that educators had in the late 19th century. That doesn't speak well about us, but at the same time our public school system has lasted despite small minds.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

  3. I am joining your blog. I loved this. I am a teacher of teachers, and most days, I am disheartened, and other days, angry. What has education become? I look forward to more.

    1. Thank you! You might be interested in my work w/ the NEA Better Lesson Master Teacher Project. I'm part of the ELA 12 team and currently have 59 lessons live on the website. More will go live as I finish and revise units. There are also lessons for K-12 math and K-12 for ELA. My understanding is that BL is moving forward w/ science next year.

  4. I'm sure you've got a few ideas about the quality of the schools where I live - Chicago. They're a mess.

    Precious Monsters

    1. I have a friend who teaches in Chicago, and he has told me some stories. I also have some friends teaching in the suburbs. Education seems to be the only occupation that businessmen, et al. think doesn't need money. That is, they don't ascribe to the notion that you get what you pay for when it comes to paying for schools or paying teachers. I don't know all the answers, but I do know George W. Bush and his ilk have made things worse.

  5. Great post! I was born, raised and still live in West Virginia which is IMO a total joke concerning education. We have one of the highest illiteracy rates even among HS graduates!