Archive for Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vocal opponent of No Child Left Behind to speak at KU Thursday

Author Alfie Kohn wants parents to think about different kinds of learning

September 30, 2008


One of the nation's most vocal opponents of the No Child Left Behind Act is set to take the stage at Kansas University on Thursday.

Alfie Kohn, an outspoken author who writes about the negative effects of standardized testing, said he hopes parents attending that speech, at 7 p.m. at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union, will begin asking why so much stock is put into standardized tests.

"If parents hear that the test scores have gone up in their kids' school, their first response ought to be, 'Oh no! What did they have to sacrifice from my child's education in order to raise those scores?'"

Kohn, who has appeared on "Oprah" and in TIME magazine, is highly critical of the focus given to standardized testing since No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2001.

The law, he said, "has federalized and annualized the worst sort of top-down corporate-style, test-driven approach to education, with punishment for the schools that need the most help, and the test-related objectives that no unmedicated observer knows is possible."

Rick Ginsberg, dean of KU's School of Education, said Kohn brings an alternative viewpoint to that of some educators. A dissenting voice is a good way to drive discussion, he said.

"He takes a very different stance than many educators do, and I think that's important," Ginsberg said. "We all agree that it's important for our students and our faculty and policy-makers in our state to hear the alternative perspectives, so we can make the best decisions."

Kohn's mission Thursday will be to get people thinking about different types of learning.

"I'm going to help parents and teachers think about the difference between thinking deeply about questions that matter, on the one hand, and memorizing fact or practicing skills that will be on the test, on the other hand," he said.

"Our hope is that we have to get politically involved in this," said Lleana McReynolds, director of Raintree Montessori School, which is helping organize Kohn's speech. "We have to talk to legislators; we have to talk to school board members to make the change."

The event is jointly sponsored by the KU School of Education, Raintree Montessori School, Baker University's School of Education and Lawrence public schools.


LiberalDude 8 years ago

Good call frankie. Maybe I'll do the same.

Shardwurm 8 years ago

Something must be really screwed up with our education system.I mean, we're the richest and most powerful nation on the planet so we have to be screwing something up right?Truth is 'education' is one of the biggest scams in the country. The higher the grade the bigger the scam. Take Universities for example. They'll keep a straight face when they tell you a BA in Sociology is actually worth paying $80,000 for. People want socialized medicine. I'd rather socialize higher education.

Left_handed 8 years ago

No Child Left Behind was heralded by the left when their boy Edward Kennedy of Massachusettes came up with it. Amazing that his name is never mentioned in conjunction with it now.

jafs 8 years ago

The idea of making sure that our children are being well-educated is good.Creating national standards to avoid tremendous variance from state to state is good.Focusing solely on standardized tests may be insufficient.Requiring more of the educational system without funding it adequately makes no sense.

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

NCLB is, like many other BUSHCO initiatives, based on a lie and phony statistics. They cooked the books in Houston and other Texas school districts to "prove" the approach can work. While well-intended, it is poorly designed and relies too much on standardized tests to make judgments about schools and students. The attempts to revise it during the next authorization (already a year behind) will be interesting. There is nothing wrong with accountability, but NCLB won't get us to the promised land. Good teachers, visionary leadership and community engagement to support education are the real answer. Unfortunately, none of these will fit on a bumper sticker.

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

Kennedy was foolish to sign on, but he believed W's commitment to fund the extra work needed to deal with the difficult to teach students. So far, the Feds are at least $60,000,000,000 behind the promised support in the past 7-8 years. As for BUSHCO, examine the way they ignored the "scientific" requirements for extra tutoring and/or academic products. Like many of their initiatives, they are designed to assist family and long-time friends. Check out, for example, W's mom and brother. Read Gerald Bracey's various papers on these matters.

LiberalDude 8 years ago

A lot more people (including me) would go to this if it wasn't the same night as the VP debate. :-(

Chris Golledge 8 years ago

Kennedy is too liberal; Bush is too, umm, stupid. But what difference does that make? No educator that I know thinks NCLB is any good the way it is working; so, I was surprised to hear that Ginsberg thinks Kohn represents the minority.

dlkrm 8 years ago

Attention all Bush Bashers and Haters of All Stripes:No Child Left Behind was written by Ted Kennedy.

Angela Heili 8 years ago

No Child Left Behind really needs to be done away with. It puts way too much strain on the child. My girls come home talking about all the tests they have to take all the time. It's ridiculous! Not to mention the fact, that as the article states, their education is lacking. There is so much time devoted to preparing the kids for these tests, that their educations are watered down. I don't want my kids to be taught around a standardized test constantly. And of course the teacher's don't enjoy having to test these kids to death. There is just too much pressure in the classroom anymore, for the teachers and the students.It needs to be done away with.

frankie 8 years ago

I'm planning to tape the VP debate so I can attend the lecture.

Mixolydian 8 years ago

All you hear the last several years is how America is woefully lagging behind other countries in science and math. That raises a few questions:1. How do we know that? By standardized test scores? 2. Are we failing to teach the subjects properly for those globally standardized tests?3. Are the other countries merely teaching to a globally standardized test?4. What are those countries ahead of us doing that we're not?Bushco...Ted Kennedy...Really? Teaching a kid the quadratic formula or the periodic table of elements is a partison issue? Give it a rest already.

guesswho 8 years ago

Also, follow the money.Look at the ties between Bush and the testing companies in Texas (MacGraw Hill, I believe); they are pretty tight and if all the schools have to test kids every year, they have to buy a LOT of tests. Wonder who they are going to buy them from????

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