The Obama Administration wants “sweeping” changes in the Bush Administrations misbegotten “No Child Left Behind” act that wreaked havoc on our schools and, yes, caused more children to be left behind. Here is background from the Mahablog archives on why NCLB is much more of a toxin than a tonic for American education.
Of course, on the Right, the Administration is merely caving in to the teacher’s unions. Don Suber, a man robustly dedicated to remaining ignorant of just about everything, writes, “Whatever the teachers unions want, the teachers unions get, and baby the teachers unions want children to be left behind.” Obviously Suber got left behind somewhere, but we all agree there is plenty of room for improvement in the nation’s public schools. For this reason, education policies need to be crafted to improve public education, not hamstring it.
At Huffington Post, former teacher Eric Tipler analyzes what we know about the Obama Administration’s proposed reforms and is mostly impressed.
Sorta kinda related — Ross Douthat tries to argue that “abstinence only” sex education really works just as well as sex education that includes contraceptive information, even though empirical evidence suggests otherwise. Of course, his ultimate point is that the federal government should get out of the sex ed biz altogether and leave decisions about sex ed in schools to local communities.
But as part of his argument that teaching contraceptives doesn’t reduce teenage pregnancies, either, in spite of the fact that it does, he links to an Alan Guttmacher study that allegedly says school sex ed doesn’t change sexual behavior, period. But I looked at the study Douthat links to, and that’s not what it says. “There was particularly strong evidence that four groups of programs are effective at reducing sexual risk-taking or pregnancy,” the study says, and one of those four groups of programs is “sex and HIV education programs with certain qualities.” Later, it explain that one of those qualities was emphasizing the importance of avoiding unprotected sex. Emphasis added.
Naughty Douthat. But this kind of illustrates a weird quirk in the rightie brain — actual results don’t matter. If they like a program because it comprises their values, then it’s a good program, and disastrous results don’t change that.