Starving over NCLB
Author Jonathan Kozol, whose classic Savage Inequalities inspired me eight years ago to become an education reporter, is on a hunger strike protesting the damage being done to inner-city children by the No Child Left Behind Act.No Child Left Behind, as all you educators out there know, is up for reauthorization in Congress. That means, as Kozol puts it this week in a blog entry for Huffington Post, "Congress will either renew, abolish, or, as thousands of teachers pray, radically revise in the weeks immediately ahead."
Kozol explains in the post why he believes the law is doing "vicious damage" to inner-city children:
"The poisonous essence of this law lies in the mania of obsessive testing it has forced upon our nation's schools and, in the case of underfunded, overcrowded inner-city schools, the miserable drill-and-kill curriculum of robotic "teaching to the test" it has imposed on teachers, the best of whom are fleeing from these schools because they know that this debased curriculum would never have been tolerated in the good suburban schools that they, themselves, attended.
"The justification for this law was the presumptuous and ignorant determination by the White House that our urban schools are, for the most part, staffed by mediocre drones who will suddenly become terrific teachers if we place a sword of terror just above their heads and threaten them with penalties if they do not pump their students' scores by using proto-military methods of instruction -- scripted texts and hand-held timers -- that will rescue them from doing any thinking of their own."
Yikes. So, will a hunger strike make a difference? Kozol writes that he's eaten mostly small amounts of liquid foods for more than two months, during which time he's dropped 29 pounds. Readers of Huffington Post are divided on the wisdom of such a strategy. What do you think? And what would you like to see happen to No Child Left Behind?