National education policy -- oh, how it's changed

Aug 18, 2012

The way legislators, experts and other opinion leaders discuss the role of parents and schools in reducing educational inequalities has changed dramatically since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act first passed in 1965. Put simply, parents were viewed as part of the problem then, with schools seen as the solution. In recent years, with No Child Left Behind and more school choice options, these roles have flipped.

"There has been a continued focus on reducing educational inequalities; however, there are stark contrasts in the way policymakers and experts talked about what they saw as the root problems and how to solve them from 1965 to 2001 -- especially the roles of parents and schools," said Emily Meanwell, sociology doctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington.

The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act was the federal government's first major and is described by Meanwell as "one of the most important education policies in American history. Created to reduce educational inequalities found across the country, its goal was to increase opportunities for poor and disadvantaged children as part of the War on Poverty."

It's notable, Meanwell says, that the act did not focus on content or curriculum, explicitly forbidding a national curriculum. Nor did it explicitly address race. Meanwell wrote that race and already were addressed in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"No Child Left Behind explicitly addresses achievement gaps between ," Meanwell said. "The original law was technically race-neutral."

The federal education law has been reauthorized eight times, most recently in 2002 with the reauthorization of NCLB. Meanwell analyzed testimony given by a range of experts during congressional hearings in 1965 and 2001. In the early years, testimony portrayed parents as part of the problem when students' home lives and experiences left them ill-prepared for . Schools, then, with the help of extra funding, were expected to bring these students up to speed. Instead of focusing on "inputs," as in children's school readiness or school funding, No Child Left Behind focuses more attention outputs, largely in the form of standardized test scores. This casts schools more as the problem, particularly when they report poor test scores. Parents now are seen as part of the solution, with access to accountability data in the form of test scores and more options.

"Poor students were framed as trapped in failing schools, and needing parents to rescue them, in 2001. This is a reverse of the framing in 1965, when they were portrayed as trapped in culturally impoverished families and needing schools to rescue them," Meanwell said.

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dogbert
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 18, 2012
And academic excellence continues to be stifled by federal involvement. The major effect of the initial foray by the federal government into education was an immediate and significant reduction in standards with a commensurate reduction in outcome.

Over the years as federal involvement increased, academic standards continued to fall with commensurate reduction in outcome.

If you want academic excellence, return to the systems which provided academic excellence -- those systems operated by state and local boards without federal interference.
Manitou
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2012
Welcome to the bizarro world of American education where schools are entirely preoccupied with the lower grades and where the best must fend for themselves.
Caliban
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 18, 2012
Complete bs, doggie.

and not surprising, considering that you have almost certainly merely paraphrased another source.

Federal funding is intended to equalize resources and access to a quality education for ALL CHILDREN. Prior to the ESEA, your

systems operated by state and local boards without federal interference


--was entirely a matter of privilege, with the socioeconomic condition of a community determining the quality of the school. In plain words --if you were poor then you went to a shit school.

The history of education in America since ESEA has been that of the efforts of the priveleged to return education to its pre-ESEA state.

And I smile at how disingenuously you float this turd:

Over the years as federal involvement increased, academic standards continued to fall with commensurate reduction in outcome.


entirely ignoring that, firstly, correlation is not necessarily causation, and secondly, that these factors were not isolated in a vacuum.

mvg
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2012
The basic problem with the "educational system" is that in very few cases does it instill a "love of learning".

Too often, after years in a stifling academic atmosphere--many students develop a Kantian "misology" ("hatred of knowledge", or at least an apathy toward the pursuit of understanding).

If schools could/would teach a love of learning-the world would be full of self-educated men of letters. Especially today, when the internet allows anyone of any age to have access to almost any information from the history of Akkad to the most recent scientific development.
SatanLover
not rated yet Aug 18, 2012
people should play games like SPORE as kids , that will get them to love learn evolution more later on.
Shootist
1 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
"No Child Left Behind explicitly addresses achievement gaps between racial groups," Meanwell said. "The original law was technically race-neutral."


If you called this neo-racism, you'd be pilloried, and correct.
matthew_reynolds_509
1 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
"Federal funding is intended to equalize resources and access to a quality education for ALL CHILDREN. Prior to the ESEA, your systems operated by state and local boards without federal interference --was entirely a matter of privilege, with the socioeconomic condition of a community determining the quality of the school. In plain words --if you were poor then you went to a shit school."

Ok, fine, let's say I except that premise. Has federal involvement changed the plain truth that poor communities generally have poor schools? More to the point, isn't it still true that poor urban neighborhoods have poor schools? None of the funding changes have changed that. So maybe its time to consider that the problem was never 'equal access to resources' in the first place. Some of the best school districts in the country are in poor rural areas of the great plains? How does your theory that its all socioeconomic priviledge fit with that?
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
The failure of American education has always been a failure of American Culture.

Republicans foolishly think that they can solve the problem with standardized tests and while the Democrats correctly believe that the solution is cultural change. Although it is cultural change they can not realize as a result of Republican Resistance.

Caliban
5 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2012

Ok, fine, let's say I except that premise. Has federal involvement changed the plain truth that poor communities generally have poor schools? More to the point, isn't it still true that poor urban neighborhoods have poor schools? None of the funding changes have changed that. So maybe its time to consider that the problem was never 'equal access to resources' in the first place. Some of the best school districts in the country are in poor rural areas of the great plains? How does your theory that its all socioeconomic priviledge fit with that?


Quite simply, federal funds are only part of a school's funds. The majority are state and local revenues, ie taxes apportioned by enrollment.

Ever hear of "white flight"? Charter schools? Magnet schools?
Those parents with the means relocate to wealthier communities, or wangle enrollment at the shiny, new Charter/Magnet. Or maybe both.

If this isn't clear to you, then I don't think anything I can say will open your eyes.
zaxxon451
3.5 / 5 (2) Aug 20, 2012
For those of you who believe in the myth of "bad" schools or "bad" teachers see the journal article: Equality in Educational Opportunity, better known as The Coleman Report

An excerpt: "Taking all of these results together, one implication stands above all: that schools bring little to bear on a child's achievement that is independent of his background and general social context; and that this very lack of an independent effect means that the inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront life at the end of school." (p. 325)

But these kind of sentiments aren't very politically expedient are they? It's easy for politicians to pretend to address the problem by closing schools and railing about "teacher accountability". And not so easy to address the real problem of the inequalities in our society.
kochevnik
not rated yet Aug 20, 2012
For those of you who believe in the myth of "bad" schools or "bad" teachers see the journal article: Equality in Educational Opportunity, better known as The Coleman Report
That's absurd. Of course some schools have 30% Ivy League/top 10 placements and others have zero.
HC68
2 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2012
Dogbert- The problem is not that you're wrong about the effects of the Federal involvement. It's been mostly a disaster. The problem is that it's a symptom of the underlying _cultural_ problem that has bedeviled the country since the early 70s. Returning control to the local school boards and the States won't change much because the same cultural problem permeates those levels as well.

Vendicar - The problem with the Dems is that while they correctly recognize a cultural factor, they are 100% wrong about it's nature. They want more of the very things that created the problem, the 70s thinking permmeates the Democratic Party so deeply that they can't operate outside it. Even to suggest such a thing could rip the Democratic Party apart, because the ideals they believe in are the problem. The utopianism they embrace is destructive when applied in reality.

The changes that would fix things are simple...and very hard, because of vested financial and emotional interests.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2012
As are you.

"The problem with the Dems is that while they correctly recognize a cultural factor, they are 100% wrong about it's nature." - HC68

The primary failure of American culture has been the destruction of the American family by Corporations who now not only enslave the husband of every family but typically every wife as well, and often the children too if they are over 15.

Money grubbing is one of America's favorite past times, and the one that has done the greatest damage to American society.

America needs to emulate this man...

http://www.youtub...thrNcgQQ
hb_
not rated yet Aug 21, 2012
@HC68

What changes are "..very hard, because of vested .."? Could you be more specific?
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Aug 23, 2012
Caliban,
Complete bs ... and not surprising, considering that you have almost certainly merely paraphrased another source.

My own words. Not taken from anyone else.
And I smile at how disingenuously you float this turd:
Over the years as federal involvement increased, academic standards continued to fall with commensurate reduction in outcome.

entirely ignoring that, firstly, correlation is not necessarily causation, and secondly, that these factors were not isolated in a vacuum.


You obviously were not in the primary education system in the 60's and 70's when the federal government became involved in the system. You did not see minimum academic requirements for advancement to another grade fall from 75% to 70% and on to 65% and you did not see that the information presented declined to the point that we presented "new math" and wondered "Why can't Johnny read?" (because no one taught him to read).
-- continued
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Aug 23, 2012
-- continued
These things were the direct result of and in response to direct requirements of the federal government.
antialias_physorg
2 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2012
Schools should focus neither on test scores nor on 'bringing children up to speed' but on making children autonomous in the world they will be thrown into.
This incorporates a mix for making them 'workplace ready' (and in promising cases ready for higher learning) and also for giving them the faculty to being critical human beings not prone to demagogic/advertisement manipulation.

The basic problem with the "educational system" is that in very few cases does it instill a "love of learning".

Instilling a 'love of learning' would be nice - but when you get right down to it: That was never the reason why schools were set up in the first place.

We tend to see schools as some altruistic 'gift to the children' - and too often forget that their original purpose was to train the workers/soldiers of the future in a selfish bid of the generation of now so that it could live in comfort and security.
Caliban
not rated yet Aug 24, 2012
@doggie,


entirely ignoring that, firstly, correlation is not necessarily causation, and secondly, that these factors were not isolated in a vacuum."


You obviously were not in the primary education system in the 60's and 70's when the federal government became involved in the system. You did not see minimum academic requirements for advancement to another grade fall from 75% to 70% and on to 65% and you did not see that the information presented declined to the point that we presented "new math" and wondered "Why can't Johnny read?" (because no one taught him to read).


I'm not sure how you arrived at any of these conclusions, except for the certainty that you utterly ignored my admonition that:

"...firstly, correlation is not necessarily causation, and secondly, that these factors were not isolated in a vacuum."

Which only highlight the fact that your thinking on this --and indeed, many other matters-- is ruled by ideology

--not Reality.

HC68
not rated yet Aug 26, 2012
To hb:

'What changes are "..very hard, because of vested .."? Could you be more specific?'

Certainly.

Elementary/high schools in America used to work, for the most part, quite well. Those that did not were the exception, and the reasons were usually visible.

The key to the issue is that the list of things that need to be taught in elementary school is basic, and despite all the noise from various interest groups pushing agendas, they haven't changed much in years. Basic reading, writing, math, etc, the same things need to be taught now that were taught in 1950, or 1900. That does not require addressing 'digital divides', pursuit of 'social justice', or using the schools as glorified jobs programs for teachers and (esp!) administrators/lawyers/etc.

It doesn't mean more preschool (i.e. daycare in disguise). Head Start is a waste of money, but until recently it was considered sacred and off-limits to criticism.
HC68
not rated yet Aug 26, 2012
When we see demands for more and ever more preschool programs, special-ed programs, 'gifted' programs, longer school years, etc, it's always presented as 'for the children' and almost invariably is actually a demand for more money, using the children as a pretext. New digital computer and IT gear is sweet and fun, but a paper textbook can be reused over and over, year after year, and the fact that it's kind of beaten up and the cover is off does not make it less effective in teaching elementary math or basic English. New gyms and elaborate art programs are fun, but they are also luxuries. Math and reading and writing are necessities.

Note the pattern: the necessary stuff is basic, and can be dealt with fairly basically. The stuff that keeps getting focused on is expensive and mostly unnecessary, but it has advocates backing it for self-interested reasons.

HC68
not rated yet Aug 26, 2012
Dogbert is right that the Feds inflicted a lot of this damage. But the problem is that the same cultural changes that led the Federal government to do this also affects the States and local governments. The Federal government, had it been running the schools in the 40s and 50s, would probably have done a decent job, because the cultural problem that wrecked the schools had not yet arisen. Now, the locals share the same problems on a smaller scale as the Federals.

Keep it simple, keep it basic, that should be the basic mantra for grades 1-8. By that I do NOT mean dumbing it down, I mean focusing on the basics, reading, writing, math, history, geography, civics, etc. If you don't master the subjects, you repeat the year.

Schools need to be warm in the winter, reasonably cool in the hot season, and keep the rain out. They need to be physically safe. They do not need gilded facilities out of adminstrator fantasy to do their basic work.
HC68
not rated yet Aug 26, 2012
Note the list of fads and disguised money-grabs over the last few decades. Ebonics. The self-esteem movement. Racial and gender programs that entirely ignore actual results. Pre-school programs that serve little purpose but which are treated as tremendous advantages for the students. Note things like court ordered busing and other interferences designed ot use schools to do things they are unsuited to do. Note the idea the school should provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that this is necessary even in the summer break. Note the idea that schools must give students the politically correct view on everything from recycling to gay marriage. There's a huge laundry list of things that detract from the core mission of the schools.

Removing those things, however, means stepping on toes and vested financial and career interests. It means killing some sacred cows that are very well guarded.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2012
Caliban,

Repeating vacuous arguments does not make them more substantial. Insulting personalities does not make your arguments more substantial either.

If someone fires a weapon and someone else falls dead of a gunshot wound, this is not associative, it is causative.

When the federal government became involved in the education system, there was a rapid drop in standards directly in response to the federal requirements. There has been a continuing suppression of academic results by the federal government. This is a causative relationship, not associative. The federal government requires actions which directly result in failing schools.
HC68
not rated yet Sep 03, 2012
'The federal government requires actions which directly result in failing schools.' - Dogbert

True, but unfortunately the State governments, in their own sphere, are doing the same things, and so are many local authorities. The rot runs through the whole system now.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2012
HC68,

The state governments are controlled by the federal government with threats and bribes. The states can be expected to be responsible again if the federal government gets out of the way.