Helping Public Schools Pass the FAIL Test

The Obama Administration has come up with another fabulous idea. Hard on the heels of teacher’s union demands in states across America, it appears that we need even higher salaries, smaller classes, more stringent work rules, ever-more lavish health benefits (with Viagra), and fatter retirement plans:

[The Hill] Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Congress on Wednesday that 82 percent of the nation’s public schools could be failing by next year under the standards of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.

But don’t worry. Mr Duncan has discovered the kernel of the problem…

[No Child Left Behind] has created a thousand ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed.

That’s so true! Why, I remember my days as a college professor and how foolish I was. Most of my test questions had only a very small, limited set of correct answers. Sometimes – believe it or not – there was only one correct answer! And there were millions, billions, squizillions of incorrect answers! I should have seen that was no way to design a test. How can students succeed in an environment where there are so many ways to fail?

We want to get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair, flexible and focused on the schools and students most at risk.

Yes! I see it now! You-reeka! If we don’t “label” them as failures, they haven’t failed! It’s like calling terrorists, “terrorists”. If we don’t call them terrorists, there won’t be any terrorists, and we will have solved the terrorism problem once and for all. If there are no “terrorists”, it’s impossible to have a terrorism problem. See how that works? Same with schools. It’s brilliant!

In fact, the same strategy could work for the Obama Administration itself. A lot of people point to the so-called “failures” of the White House, but what we need to do is encourage a public narrative that is more fair, flexible, and focused on the politicians most at risk of being voted out of office. I understand that a pilot program is underway, at this very moment, in the halls of NPR and MSNBC.


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