A reader sent this tweet from Arne Duncan:
Arne Duncan @arneduncan 17h
The bad news from #OECDPISA: US is running in place while other countries lap us. Good news: We’re laying the right foundation to improve.
This is very sad. If PISA shows anything, it is that the policies of the Bush-Obama administrations have not reached their one singular goal: higher test scores.
NCLB was signed into law on January 8, 2002. Since that time, every public school in the nation has followed the same federally-mandated prescription. It doesn’t work.
A reporter asked me last night whether the US performance over the past half century shows that no reforms work. I disagreed strongly. There was never any nationwide school reform that affected every school and every district until NCLB. Only since 2002 have we had a single federal policy. Before we had different districts adopting different programs and reforms, as they chose. PISA shows that the past decade of annual testing of basic skills in grades 3-8 failed. No other country in the world tests every child every year. No other country places as much value on test scores as we do. No other country fires principals and teachers and closes schools based on test scores.
Arne’s tweet is like a basketball coach who tells his team to use the same game plan again and again and again. It fails every time. Yet he says we must stick to his game plan anyway.
It makes no sense. We need a game changer. We need reduced class sizes for the students who struggle. We need bilingual teachers for English learners. We need experienced teachers but we are losing them. We need medical care for the students who never get a check-up. We need pre-K to help kids get a good start. We need after school programs and summer programs. We need healthy communities and healthy families and healthy children.
We need a national commitment to the well-being of all our children. Our children are our society’s future. We must treat them as our own.