no teacher left standing. (except those who cheat.)

Well, paint me green and call me Gumby! Who could have predicted that No Child Left Behind’s emphasis on standardized test scores—and tying financial rewards to those scores—would result in widespread and rampant cheating by teachers and administrators?

Genius…pure genius. Of course, the smart people who came up with NCLB won’t have to fix the mess they’ve created. But then again, that’s true for most unintended consequences created by well-meaning but short-sighted legislation.

15 thoughts on “no teacher left standing. (except those who cheat.)

  1. GD says:

    BS. If this is NCLB’s fault, I’m the Pope. Either a person is of low morals and willing to cheat to avoid any criticism, or a person of high morals and welcomes criticism as the first step on the path to self-improvement. Period. It makes no difference what the observation mechanism is.

    Case in point, when I was in High School… the FIRST day of my FIRST class of my FIRST year of high school, my teacher for World History one informed me that whenever there was an observer from the administration in the classroom, it would be “discussion day”. He would ask questions and if we knew the answer we would raise our right hands, if we didn’t know the answer we would raise our left hands. If everyone raised their left hand, he would say “well, I guess we all know that one…” and we would move on. This was over 20 years prior to NCLB.

    Bottom line: Some (not all, but some) teachers, fireman, lawyers, cops, computer techs, writers, and people in general will cheat when been graded at something. This does not mean we should stop trying to measure the efficacy of those professions. It means we should unflinchingly punish the ones we catch cheating.

  2. GD says:

    PS: I’m not saying NCLB is without fault, just that this particular public education SNAFU should not be blamed on it.

  3. I think that one of the reasons NCLB failed is that it was written by people who didn’t really understand education — what it’s for, what it does, how it works. I look at the folks who get into Congress, and mostly what I see are the kind of people who themselves cheated their way through high school and college. High school kids who perfected the hidden cheat sheet, frat boys who used their frat houses’ extensive library of old exams: people who valued the “A” more than the knowledge. Is it any wonder they constructed a system that rewards cheating? All they did was add another kind of “A” to the mix, one more number to be manipulated.

  4. Nate says:

    GD: that’s a good point, but the system one is working under still has a huge effect on behavior. If one is generally lacking in morals, there are systems that work to mitigate and punish this behavior, and there are systems that (even accidentally) encourage and reward this behavior. I think it can be pretty conclusively argued that NCLB is of the latter type. Therefore, we can probably predict that controlling for the level of morality, NCLB will encourage more immoral behavior compared to it not existing to begin with.

  5. Fred2 says:

    “created by well-meaning but short-sighted legislation”

    I am beyond sick to death ( yes, Zombie like) of “well meaning & short sighted” especially when BEFORE the legislation even passes critics trash it on valid and intelligent grounds and IT STILL GETS PASSED.

    At that point it’s not well meaning and you are pretty sure the passers are are ideological fanatics, stupid or evil.

    Or all of the above.

  6. kkbarrett says:

    The only fault of the NCLB was trusting school boards to be honest.

    They will need to hire their own testing staff, and prosecute the folks responsible for cheating in order to steal federal money.

    Of course, a better solution would be to shut down the Department of education, and stop handing out money as any kind of a reward. If a state wants to pay for babysitters instead of education, that is their problem.

  7. The Other Jay says:

    1) My personal opinion is that the Department of Education should be disbanded immediately as a well-meaning – but short-sighted – effort by an over-reaching federal government to intrude unnecessarily into education.

    2) There is no program that I know of where access to the federal trough is available that has not inspired some degree of working the system, up to and including felony fraud. Educators, farmers, road contractors, defense contractors, nuclear plant managers, pollution mediation contractors, and the Army Corps of Engineers have all been caught lately.

    3) Repeat #1 for: Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs; all of which can have their actual critical (1-2%) activities handled within another Department.

  8. As someone who would not have been able to afford to go to college without a loan from the Department of Education, I have to admit that I’m not terribly enthusiastic about suggestions that it be shut down. It does a lot more than people seem to think it does, and there’s a great deal of baby in that bathwater.

    • Jake says:

      The first question to ask is “How has federal involvement artificially inflated the cost of going to college?” More people might be able to afford college if the .gov wasn’t throwing money at everyone who wanted it. Right now, colleges can just about charge whatever they want simply because they know the .gov will pony up the money. The college doesn’t care if people don’t pay the .gov back – they’ve already got their money and are working on getting the next group’s money.

      The second question to ask is whether private grants and scholarships would still exist (most likely they would) to assist those who couldn’t afford college otherwise. In fact, there would probably be more, because businesses would need employees with degrees in certain areas, and if there was a shortage (or anticipated shortage) of qualified people they would have the incentive to create those scholarships to ensure a sufficient pool of applicants.

      • Deal with all the hypotheticals you want to, Jake, I’m just not willing to knock down the structure that exists and works in the hope that matters will magically correct themselves afterward in a way that they never did before the DOE existed.

    • kkbarrett says:

      Nothing hypothetical about it, John. The high cost of education is caused by student loans and Pell Grants.

      Institutions set their prices according to how much cash can be milked from the student loan system, and students are forced at federal gun point to pay back loans with jobs that seldom cover the cost of the loans. You cannot hide from a student loan via bankruptcy.

    • Jeff The Bear says:

      John, My college time predates the DOE. It was established as a sop to the teachers unions. Somehow, we managed to pay for college by working, looking for private scholarships, taking out (very small) college loans, etc. And this was before people PRESUMED that parents would pay for everything. That was an execption for many of us, not the norm.

      I see no reason to spend billions of federal tax dollars on an organization just so you (or any individual) can get school loans. The only things DOE has done is make the cost of a college education skyrocket beyond any fiscal reasons and oversee the lowering of test scores around the country compared to the decades before it existed. If it didn’t exist we would all be better off.

  9. farmist says:

    John, I was most of the way through college when the DOE was established. I didn’t see any appreciable change in how my last year of college was financed.

  10. LittleRed1 says:

    When NCLB was passed, a classmate of mine (education major who I’ll call Alice) whose mother just happened to be the secretary of the Flat State Teachers’ Union voiced a mixture of disappointment and outrage. Alice (and one presumes Mom) agreed that there were “a very few” teachers who were not “working to their potential” who needed to be let go or retrained. But Alice’s outrage was for all the good teachers who would be punished by NCLB. That’s because good teachers’ students would show less improvement over the year than the poor teachers’ students would, and so the new federal policies penalized the good teachers. All I could do was blink and nod in awe and wonder, and thank G-d that Flat State has private schools as well as allowing home schooling.

  11. Jake says:

    To paraphrase Jamie Zawinski:

    You have a problem. “Ah! I got it!”, you think to yourself. “I’ll just pass a bit of legislation.”

    Now you have two problems.

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