Like saying Biggie Smalls’ name three times into a mirror, I worry that even this small citation will give too much power to Sarah Puglisi’s anti-NCLB rant. Once again, it doesn’t matter to me (or the cross-section of eager, hardworking young teachers I claim to represent) what you believe on NCLB (whether to scrap it or keep it), rather why you believe it and how you go about believing it. (Todd Seal, ladies and gentlemen, on getting the difference.)
Drag your mouse over any random swath of Puglisi’s polemic and the selection fails on both measures. Here’s one:
… [NCLB] wrestled the ART of teaching reading away from the instructor. Hooked onto Phonics and playing the phonics scripted tape, even if you read at the 6th grade level and sit in a 1st grade room. We are doing LONG A today kids. No one is special, you are all robots and I know what you need. Open up that worksheet.
Puglisi wants to throw out NCLB (not an unjustifiable stance in my mind) because, “It makes differentiated instruction impossible,” a justification which anyone who has managed to differentiate instruction under NCLB will find distinctly unjustifiable. She supports that distortion with ad hominem attacks, gross characterizations, and a strident, rabid tone.
Which makes her gasoline. Which feels great if you’re already on fire, but for those of us not yet aflame, those of us looking for measured responses to an obviously complicated issue, these angry Valkyrie cries, all the more shrill for their heavy reliance on anecdotal “evidence,” just turn us off.
I read Puglisi. I read Wegner, who endorsed Puglisi’s screed. And then I wanted to lock my door, dump half the RSS feeds from my reader, and work harder at my job.
Can we elevate the rhetoric around here, or is this how it’s going to be?
[via Wegner, which, thanks, brah.]
Update: The All Stars of education reform are mixing it up in the comments. Chris Lehmann, Eastern Conference MVP opens with:
What NCLB has done is create a deficit model with what I believe to be very faulty metrics where it’s very hard for hard working teachers to feel good about anything they do. It’s increased the amount distrust the public has in education, and it’s set up a series of punishments that would do little (at best) to improve education for the students in “failing” schools. In other words, the beatings will continue until morale improves.
TMAO, Western Conference champ and reluctant icon, plays back with:
… the legislation put labels on a pre-existing situation and did so in a way that is (arguably) rigid and binary, but nonetheless accurate. You mention deficit models, but the only one worth discussing is the deficit in instruction that poor kids, Black, Latino, SE Asian receive. That’s a deficit that exists independent of NCLB.
Both comments are well worth reading in their entirety.
Blog-retiree Lori Jablonski and TMAO exchange words on low-income school conditions pre- and post-NCLB in the comments (both speaking from experience) and the mgmt. hastens to remind both contributors that the level of insight and articulation from outside parties must never exceed that of the mgmt.
Both Lori and Chris Lehmann drop activism primers that are supremely useful for this excited blogger who’s (already) tired of just blogging.