Blog: The Educated Reporter

Occupy Education, NCLB and Community Colleges

The Occupy Education movement is calling for a national day of action today, aimed at “turning back the tide of austerity” through coordinated large-scale public action.

“We refuse to accept the dismantling of our schools and universities, while the banks and corporations make record profits,” according to a statement on the organization’s Web site. “We refuse to accept educational re-segregation, massive tuition increases, outrageous student debt, and increasing privatization and corporatization.

San Francisco students and educators are planning to mark the occasion with walkouts and teach-ins at the area’s public colleges and universities.The walkout will be followed Friday by a rally at the state’s Capitol in Sacramento.

“The 99% have already paid a high price as a result of the global financial crisis. Now we are demanding that those who caused the crisis through their greed and recklessness pay,” Terence Yancey, a student at SF State and active occupier, wrote to SF Weekly.

Twenty-six states are seeking waivers to escape the most onerous elements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Any relief would be a temporary measure until Congress acts on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which has been up for renewal since 2007. So far 11 states have already received waivers from the U.S. Department of Education. Lawmakers this week are wrangling over the scope and reach of federal authority in public schools.

In her “Answer Sheet” column, the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss argues that “Obama’s NCLB are waivers aren’t what he says they are.” Instead of freeing states from the yoke of unreasonable expectations — such as having 100 percent of students proficient in reading math by the 2013-14 academic year — the waivers will make things worse, Strauss says.

States are only eligible for waivers if they implement the administration’s preferred school reforms, Strauss says, adding that “the Education Department’s reforms have done nothing to limit damaging high-stakes standardized testing, but instead exacerbated the problem by encouraging states to evaluate teachers in part by student test scores, a scheme assessment experts say is invalid.”

More than one in four community college students who might have been able to handle entry level coursework were instead placed in remedial classes that cost them money but earned them no credit toward a degree, according to two new studies by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University.

As Inside Higher Ed reports, students were placed in the remedial classes on the basis of their college entrance exams, but the study found that using their high school grade-point averages would have been just as accurate.

“Information on a student’s high school transcript could complement or substitute for that student’s placement test scores,” according to the report. “This would lead to a faster and more successful progression through college.”


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