Monday, March 23, 2009
City Paper education story misses mark on NCLB; the media should cover education for the child's welfare, not that of whining bureaucrats
The education reporter at the City Paper usually does a good job, but the whining piece today about No Child Left Behind and children facing obstacles to their education really misses the mark.
And as I have found with most education reporters across this nation, it is representative of a journalist not in regular contact with the children and their parents. I make this contention as a three-time winner of commentary awards for national education reporting (at large newspapers) from the Education Writers Association in Washington, D.C.
NCLB is NOT about whether a school district bureaucracy is going to look good or school board members will keep their seats. It is about children -- who for generations have been left to anecdotal statements by educators as to their performance. And the statements are used to cover the ass of the bureaucracy first for job retention.
If Nashville does not want to have all these "subgroups" of immigrant and poor black children, then it should reincorporate itself to Green Hills and Belle Meade. But since it calls itself the Athens of the South and boasts of being a city proud of its diversity, then it should be prominently responsible for these children and its failure to properly educate them.
I was on hand this morning as children at Smithson Craighead Academy returned from Spring break. And they were excited to return to learn at a public charter school where they know they are wanted. Their achievement has been phenomenal. No one else wants these kids, as the City Paper story strongly showed.
But I know what it is like to be an outsider and a high school graduate of Frederick Douglass High School in Oklahoma City. So I am proud to be part of their lives as the chairman of the board of development for Project Reflect, sponsor of the school. We believe enough money already is being spent on public education. There just needs to be competition for those dollars to increase efficiency and accountability and give parents choices for their children's education.
Yet, what about the futures of these children ... not that of school district and state bureaucrats?
Consider that in the five years of the existence of state lottery scholarships, the enrollment at Tennessee State University has not increased. Why? Because black children after going through Metro Schools cannot score a qualifying 19 on ACT tests. Yet they are getting grades of A on their essays and tests.
We will be changing that at our alternative public school that will one day be K-12.
So who should we feel more sorry for -- whining bureaucrats and school board members or the children who are damned to an unbreakable cycle of poverty?
It was my privilege to be part of the passage of NCLB and to help George W. Bush get into office to bring actual achievement scores to the education of immigrant and poor black children -- all these subgroup kids.
The City Paper story was incredibly superficial and written for the bureaucrat, not the child. That NCLB is unfair to urban districts is of no matter when you consider the prisons, housing projects and unwanted pregnancies awaiting so many children still left behind.
Nashville and every other urban school district -- that first has contractural commitments to pro sports teams and is now considering building a $600 million convention center -- deserves to have everything in the law of this land thrown at them for this gross immorality.
I am just sorry there are no prison sentences attached to NCLB so that school board members and bureaucrats could join the children they've failed.