Friday, April 08, 2005

The message is clear

The message is clear: We'll give more flexibility, but no more money. I'm talking of course about the rash of news stories about Spellings' much ballyhooed meeting at Mt. Vernon with state education officials where she said -- yet again -- that the feds would give more flexibility, specifically on testing of special ed students.

This is undoubtedly a good step. But it's maddening that it took them three years to figure out that some students, with severe disabilities, can't take the same tests as every other kid. Spellings suggested raising the cap on exempted special ed students from one to three per cent-- but only for states that raise test scores to begin with. There's a huge problem here. It's a catch-22. You can't raise your test scores if you can't raise the cap, and you can't raise the cap if you don't raise your test scores. Spellings talks about common sense but she doesn't seem to have a lot. Or, this could be a calculated approach to playing favorites. It's the W. way: you're either wit' us or agen' us.

And perhaps even more importantly, check out this from the NPR interview with Secretary Spellings from just before the Mt. Vernon meeting. Asked about schools with crumbling ceilings and a principal who wears a surgical mask at a DC school to protect him from the mold in his building, she was perfectly evasive. We're focusing on results, she said. Great. Thanks. Results mean one thing: test scores. Forget about results like new buildings or new textbooks or curricular tools or even mold remediation. We're not worried about those kind of results. Just give us those test scores, baby. I swear these people have a fetish or something.

So the message is clear. Flexibility? Maybe. More testing? Definitely. More funding? Not a chance.


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