This morning, December 26, Linda Darling-Hammond spoke with Steve Inskseep on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. You can listen or read the transcript here.
Darling-Hammond is the Stanford University professor who was considered seriously by President Barack Obama back in 2008 to be his Secretary of Education, although Obama eventually went with his Chicago buddy, Arne Duncan.
Here Darling-Hammond looks at the failure—evident after ten years—of President George Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act that set the bar for test score passage so high that, without the waivers now being offered by Arne Duncan’s Department of Education, all schools in the United States would be rated a failure in 2014, the deadline the 2002 law established as the time all children across the United States would be proficient.
According to Darling-Hammond, No Child Left Behind has neither improved school achievement nor closed achievement gaps: “basically the story for the United States over the last decade or more is flatline.”
Asks Darling-Hammond, “Will we move from a test-and-punish philosophy—which was the framework for No Child Left Behind — to an assess-and-improve philosophy?” She concludes: “Well, you know, in general, our schools do better with the challenges they have to face, than I think is true of most high-achieving nations around the world. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty, mortality, lack of health care, homelessness of any developed country in the world at this point. And we have unequal funding, so that we give more money to the education of rich kids than poor kids. So our affluent districts in schools do quite well, and are still the envy of many in the world. Our low-income schools and districts are struggling with all these responsibilities and challenges and very little and inadequate public support. And yet, they perform extraordinarily well, given the circumstances they have to meet. Our system of schools is resilient, but we have to fix these problems.”