So yesterday, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings allowed as how states should play a larger role in deciding how to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Seems to me that’s what Virginia has been saying all along. And to no avail.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal that back in my teaching days, I was part of a team that taught a class called “The Poetry of Rock.”
I have been atoning for that ever since.
There is nothing wrong with holding high expectations (which, let me assure you, “The Poetry of Rock” did not) for all students. In fact, as Jay Matthews recently pointed out, most American kids still aren’t exactly wearing themselves to a frazzle with hours of daily study. In fact, two thirds of college freshmen say they spent less than an hour a day on homework when they were in high school.
But Virginia, which was one of the first states to institute high standards, has faced a brick wall with what former State Board of Education Chair Michelle Easton used to call the “federales.” Virginia, under the leadership of State Board Chairman Kirk Schroeder, instituted research-based testing standards for students who are still learning to speak English. We also created comprehensive standards for students with disabilities.
The Feds, led by Sec. Spellings, knew better. They wanted no flexibility. Well, any woman who’s ever bought a pair of panty hose marked “one size fits all” knows that it doesn’t. Virginia lawmakers were so frustrated that at one point, the House of Delegates–Republicans and Democrats alike–voted to pass up federal funding if it came with the NCLB strings attached.