A Discussion on Entrenching the NCLB and War
Georgia has a good and troubling point.
There has been a decade of test frenzy linked to the regimented
curricula that is the spine of NCLB. NCLB encoded a lot of what was
already going on.
At the university level, that means that teacher ed graduates of at
least the last five years, and probably more, know little more than
the obedience and loyalty that reflects the goals of NCLBs
bi-partisan authors---goals of their interests as a united ruling class.
Surely that was true in my classes at SDSU, where the programs and
policies, supported by most of the faculty, demonstrate that it is
little more than an elongated community college. For example, liberal
studies grads in the California State University system never
encounter a history class that takes them beyond the Industrial
Revolution, unless they have time and money to take electives (few do
but it is a sorting process rooted in inherited wealth).
Hence those grads cannot answer the question, "who am I in relation
to others?" and, doubly bad, they don't even know the question, and
three times worse, they don't like questions like that.
There are, to be sure, some wonderful exceptions, but like good
thinking teachers everywhere, they are very isolated.
University faculties around the US are aligning the entire curriculum
to the demands of the NCLB, willingly, to get students. Predictably,
that is especially true of college of ed faculty who, sad to say, are
earning their reputations as holding the shabbiest degrees on campus.
The structural damage that NCLB will leave behind, even if it is
abolished---which I doubt----will carry over for years. We see that
now in San Diego as school workers still must suffer with the
remnants of Alan Bersin's reactionary reign even though he left more
than two years ago. His principles, and principals, are still in
place as are the fetishes about test scores, phonics, and the
classroom aides he fired in the first days of his rule are still,
mostly, gone. So, even when the Bad Dude is outa there, the habits
and structures persist.
But the crux of NCLB is not going to be abolished, even if there are
some tweaks, a name change, and some more money passed down the
funnel. The core of NCLB is (!) a fully regulated curricula replacing
the mind of an educator with the mind of a ruling class text writer,
(2) assessment based on quantitative work like high stakes exams, and
(3) the militarization of schooling, is not going to stop.
Because the wars are not going to stop.
So, would it be ok if the wars continue and NCLB is modified, even radically?
Not in my book and since one (nclb) is necessarily and inextricably
linked to the other, it will not happen.
Why will the wars continue (and probably expand)? Because the
Chinese, Europeans, Russians, Japanese, et al need that oil and
regional control around the Middle East and Caspian region as much as
the US does--each ruling class of each nation in a desperate search
for more profits because they know they either expand or die (see for
And why oil? Because oil moves the military and the military makes it
possible to loot other lands for cheap labor and raw materials (see
for example Latin America) and it also is used to smash unrest in the
homeland (as in Detroit 1967 or the us of troops to scab on the
And why is all this? Because this is the system of capital and its
state, government, which is not a democracy, but a capitalist
democracy where the levels of democracy expand and contract based on
degrees of class antagonism (see John Yoo). Capitalist democracy
means we have an executive committee of the rich, where they iron out
their many second-tier differences and then in turn rule the rest of
us---and they use their armed weapons (army, cops, Blackwater,
judges, etc) , when we or others act up.
Do we really believe that Obamagogue, Hillbillary, and McWarcriminal
are not all lying to us about nearly everything important? Have we
forgotten the Hillbillary national health care promises, subverted by
their near elimination of the welfare system? The kids will remain
hungry, NCLB or no NCLB. The only thing all these panderers are
surely telling the truth about is the same thing Bush says, "perpetual war."
The Dems may be able to better assist in the war effort by selling a
draft (that will target working class youth) and national service (to
syphon off middle class anger) a la Germany which is sending its
working class youth to Iraq (and its middle class kids to national
service projects) on the basis of a similar economic draft---though
those kids are paid a lot more than US war criminal troops.
Capital's Master/slave relationship, which is more and more a tyranny
every day all over the world, is not going to be washed away by
voting. Masters do not adopt the ethics of the slaves. This is going
to take direct action that has a pedagogical purpose, one being that
we are responsible for our own histories if not our birthrights. We
are what we do, and if all we do is teach and proctor the Big Tests,
then that is what we are. Another educational purpose being that this
is class war, a fight not a chat.
While NEA and AFT bureaucrats will spend millions of dollars on the
coming election, and mis;lead thousands of school workers onto that
treadmill, we should be doing otherwise.
Calcare is seeking to lead test boycotts, one way to resist that is
far more profound than hiding ourselves, alone, in voting booths,
isolated from our natural allies---other working and poor people.
Test boycotts down here in the lower left corner of the US may well
be connected to, or build, the many Mayday actions planned this year.
Mayday started in the US as an international workers holiday, a
communist holiday, and it is being resurrected by immigrants,
dockwokers, students, factory workers, and educators all over the US
Comments (even on the use of commas) always appreciated.
At 01:04 PM 4/6/2008, you wrote:
>But here's the really, really scary part: there are kids out there
>who have known nothing else but that testing high is what makes you
>educated. For 8 years, from kg through 8th grade they have been
>trained this way. There are even teachers who are now locked into
>this train of thought. They have lost their vision of what
>teaching and learning is all about. What does someone do with them
>if--hopefully--NCLB gets scrapped? It's like a PTSD related to
>being NCLB'd. gh
>K wrote: More evidence that we've
>succeeded in two of the goals of the opposition
> to NCLB and Reading First. We've made the public aware and through them
> the politicians that NCLB is bad for American education. And we've made
> getting rid of NCLB and Reading First at least a minor issue in the
> presidential election. If we can make it a bigger issue perhaps we can
> begin to not only stop NLCB from being renewed but actually undo the
> awful damage that it continues to imflict on our kids, teachers and
> schools. That can happen if the trickle of schools, distiricts, and
> states rejecting and refusing to cooperate with NCLB becomes a flood. It
> can happen if parents, educators and the kids themselves stop letting
> NCLB and Reading First be inflicted on them. Our job is to keep the
> information flowing and to keep the pressure up. I have no faith in
> politicians' promises but they are politiicians and if they see that
> NCLB is an issue that can influence voters' choices they will
> take stronger and more explicit postiions. In 2004 we never got our foot
> in the door. This time can be different.
> J wrote:
> > I went to hear Hillary speak yesterday at a rural high school about 15
> >miles from Portland. There was a huge crowd. I had trouble parking and
> >waited an hour and a half to get inside. My main point is that she
> >reiterated her intention to get rid of NCLB and the crowd cheered as loudly
> >for that as for anything else she said.