No Child Left Behind: A conspiracy against public education that too few called out

Jim Arnold (Pelham City Schools)

Jim Arnold (Pelham City Schools)

A while back, I ran a piece from Jim Arnold, superintendent of Pelham City Schools in Mitchell County. Several of you commented that you wished you worked for such a straight-talking school chief.

I think that sentiment is going to be even stronger after this piece, which I plan to run on the Monday education page that I assemble for the AJC. But I can’t fit all of it in the newspaper, so here is the full version.

By Jim Arnold

We’ve done it now. Eleven years we had to educate the public, to register our protests and do everything in our power to warn people what was coming, and we blew it. We knew the moment would eventually come and we hem-hawed, looked at the ground, kicked at the dirt with our shoes and failed to look the opposition in the eye and face them down. All of us saw this coming, but very few took a stand and now we – and our students – are paying the price. We could have been prophets but failed the test.

We allowed the proponents of NCLB to control the discussion from the beginning. They wrote the language, sent out the media notices and explanations, wrote the definitions of AYP, Highly Qualified and leaned heavily on the fact that none of us would dare protest anything to do with a name that implies we would be providing a high quality education for every single child in America. They were right. We chose not to speak out, not to fight against a system we knew from the beginning would set us all up for failure, and instead, in our best Dudley DoRight impersonations we set about to change the way we taught and measured and tested and graded and thought.

We knew from the outset that NCLB and its goal of 100 percent  – every child proficient in every area as determined by a single test on a single day each year – was patently, blatantly and insidiously absurd, but we took no concerted action. We knew Adequate Yearly Progress was a sham, and we literally and figuratively rolled over and tried our best to meet whatever impossible goals they set for us and our students. We knew that Federal law in NCLB was a violation of Federal law in IDEA but we went along with the insanity of testing Students with Disabilities based on chronological age rather than by IEP.

We learned very quickly and much to our chagrin that some student scores – usually the lowest ones – were counted not once, not twice, but often as many as three times, but we went along to get along. All of us were aware that Highly Qualified, for all the high rhetoric that went along with it, only served to make certification as much of a barrier as humanly possible for Special Education teachers regardless of degree or experience. It seems the teachers we needed most were subjected to the greatest roadblocks to reaching the nirvana of HiQ certification.

We tried our best to play the game but the game was rigged from the start. When the AMO’s were low it was pretty easy for most schools. When the AMO’s went up and more and more schools were labeled “failing” we looked around in a panic for help. Surely nobody believed a school deserved the failing label because two or three kids in a subgroup didn’t pass a test? Yes they did. Yes they still do. We let them make the definitions and apply the labels, even when we realized the absurdity of it all.

We actually pretended to believe that it was important for us to make sure that every child was tested on those all important test days so none could escape the trauma we inflicted upon them. We even learned in some places to game the system and hold back those kids we feared might not pass the test or might raise those student numbers to create a subgroup in areas we really didn’t want to see a subgroup or, God help us, to cheat or to make sure that we could hold out two or three or four  of “those kids” on test days so their poor scores wouldn’t have a negative effect.

Oh sure, some of you stuck your necks out and said something to the effect of “NCLB forced us to take a closer look at ourselves, and we are better off for that” in spite of the fact that it was our students that were suffering the consequences. What balderdash. What hubris. Our kids were the ones whose education was stilted by our submission to the belief that one test could effectively distill and determine the depth and extent of an entire year of a child’s education. They are the ones whose time was wasted by “academic pep rallies” and “test prep” and by the subtle and insidious ways we told them the test was “important” and put pressure on them to “do their best because our school is counting on you.”

They were the ones that did without art and music and chorus and drama because we increased the amount of time they spent in ELA and Math. They were the ones that had time in their Social Studies and Science classes cut back more and more so schools could focus on the “really important areas” of ELA and Math. They were the ELL’s that couldn’t speak English but still had to take the test. Their teachers were the ones that were told “your grading of the children in your classes doesn’t count any more because standardization is more important to us that the individual grades you provide.” This told them in effect that their efforts at teaching were important but only if they taught using “this” methodology or “this” curriculum, then, when things started to go badly, they were the first to be blamed for the failure of public education. They were told to teach every child the same way with the same material but make sure to individualize while you’re at it. Hogwash.

After a couple of years of this insanity, the “NI” status began to take its toll. Someone somewhere invented the term “failing schools” and, unsurprisingly, the label stuck. Students were given the opportunity to transfer to more test-successful schools, but at a price. Schools that did not meet AYP standards, oddly enough, were often those with high minority populations and high poverty. Nobody seemed to notice the zip code effect that left predominantly white schools meeting AYP standards and minority schools caught by the “failing” label. Oh surely, we reasoned, our government would not want to put public education in a situation it could not win………..or would they?

I struggled with the rest of you as to why NCLB would go to such great lengths to make public education appear to be such a failure, to set up a system that would guarantee failure for practically every public school as we advanced toward that magical 100 percent level and provide no tangible rewards for success and such punitive actions for not meeting arbitrary goals. On top of all of that, I failed to recognize why our nation’s legislators so nimbly avoided even the discussion of reauthorization to change what everyone knew was a failed policy. One day it finally hit me.

They didn’t want to change the policy, because the policy was designed in theory and in fact not to aid education but to create an image of a failed public school system in order to further the implementation of vouchers and the diversion of public education funds to private schools.

I am not usually a conspiracy theory guy, but this was no theory. These were cold hard facts slapping me in the face. We failed in our obligations to protect our students from one of the most destructive educational policies since “separate but equal.”  We did not educate the public on the myth and misdirection of Adequate Yearly Progress, and we allowed closet segregationists to direct the implementation of policies that we knew would result in our being the guys in the black hats responsible for “the failure of public education.”

Now we are paying the price. AYP is here to stay in one form or another, and the vast majority of our parents and public really believe the propaganda that it actually measures a school’s educational progress. If we try to convince them otherwise we are “making excuses.”

Vouchers – especially for private and charter schools exempt from the same restrictive, destructive policies we are forced to endure – are a part of every legislative session in almost every state. High stakes testing for all public education students is considered a necessary reality and teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Student test scores will soon determine teacher pay in some places even with no data to support the correlation. Students that do not graduate high school in four years are labeled as dropouts, even if they graduate in nine or 10 semesters.

Only first-time test takers are considered in the grading system for schools regardless of how many students ultimately pass the test. It will take years to undo the damage done to science, social studies, fine arts, foreign languages and other academic electives. Generations will not be enough to rid ourselves and our students of the testing mania neuroses created by our attempts to quantify the unquantifiable.

I hope the generation of teachers and administrators that follows has learned something from the failure of our generation to ward off those determined to destroy public education. We didn’t stand up to be counted, we didn’t stand in the schoolhouse door and tell them they couldn’t do that to our kids, and we didn’t educate the public about what a gigantic failure another one size fits all education policy would be. In the words of that great educator and philosopher Jimmy Buffet: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

We have all been left behind.

– From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

339 comments Add your comment

Good Mother

August 31st, 2011
10:17 am

Jim Arnold, you’re wrong. Standardized testing is not a conspiracy. It’s accountability.

I graduated from a high school with others who received a diploma and they could not read. This is why we need standardized testing — because the “grades” teachers give are not accurate.

There are failing schools just as there are failing businessnes. There are lousey teachers just as there are lousey auto mechanics. They both need to go.

Bring on the standardized tests but not the CRCT. Bring on a national standardized test like the Iowa tests and put some teeth in it. If you can’t pass the test, you can’t pass to the next grade.

We need standardized tests to root out lousey teachers. My child’s APS teacher cannot speak or write a coherent sentence. She needs to go.

We need accountability in education.

quantivious's mama

August 31st, 2011
10:30 am

wow, maureen, that is an interesting letter. makes me glad my child is grown. the problem is, this generation is still growing and they need to be nurtured. i like the letter of accountability from pelham, wish all educators felt that way. i grew up with standardized tests, and the sat is a standardized test- honestly the only thing these tests show is… how well one takes a test. i will not argue for or against standardized testing as i only know that it did not hurt me. i will argue against No Child Left Behind and wonder if ex prez bush even touched it in his book. @”‘good’??? mother” a good mother would never let her child stay in a classroom with such a teacher. take the child out of that class, take it up with the board of ed if necessary and if that does not work, take that child out of that school. i homeschooled my child for a while to get him away from a foolish teacher. good mothers do that which is best for their children. they do not complain anonymously in the newspaper.

November 6, 2012

August 31st, 2011
10:31 am

@Good Mother

August 31st, 2011
10:17 am
There are lousey teachers just as there are lousey auto mechanics. They both need to go.

Examples of “LOUSY”
She got “lousy” grades in high school :)

Susan Curtis

August 31st, 2011
10:34 am

Mr. Arnold is exactly right. I am a former teacher, and it is a shame what we are doing to our children and our educational system. We as a country are better than this. I wish we would act like it.

Inman Park Boy

August 31st, 2011
10:35 am

Yeah, right.

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2011
10:37 am

“We chose not to speak out, not to fight against a system we knew from the beginning would set us all up for failure, and instead, in our best Dudley DoRight impersonations we set about to change the way we taught and measured and tested and graded and thought.”

Jim, I applaud your willingness to speak out against this fraud. But, please remember that not all of “us” ever bought into the bullsh-t. From the very beginning, “we” at MACE spoke about against this nonsense perpetrated by Ted Kennedy and Georgia W. Bush, two private school rich kids who didn’t/don’t know crap about public education. We have been railing against the mania of standardized tests, cookie-cooker approaches to teaching, and asinine and inane prescripted curricula. But, then again, we did not work for the man, so to speak. We have the independence to be able to speak out. But, trust me, when I did indeed work for “the man,” I still spoke out against stupidity, and that is why I did not stay in the system. My parents did not raise a fool, and I like to look at myself straight in the mirror when I shave in the morning.

Again, I do applaud you, Jim, for your very spirited candor! Didn’t we have classes together at UGA over 30 years ago?


August 31st, 2011
10:38 am

Good Mother: I disagree with your first and fifth paragraphs.

Standardized testing has been around for a long time. The Iowas and others have been used to measure students against norms, but that is the point. They measure the person taking the test, the student. The fact that they might also be used as a measure of the teacher is also true but only as a minor indicator.

The fact that your child’s teacher cannot speak of write a coherent sentence should not be measured by the CRCT. That requires an in class room evaluation by someone who knows how to evaluate the teacher. Put a poor teacher in a classroom of driven students with strong parental support, the that teacher’s students will do well on the CRCT. Does that make the poor teacher all of a sudden superior? No. Teachers don’t pick their students and they don’t control them outside the classroom.

If you want to use the CRCT to measure a teacher, maybe it should be by correlating the students’ grades with their success on the CRCT. A good teacher would fail those that fail the CRCT, etc. But of course that would be too difficult to explain to the parent of the failing child.

Any program that has the inability to control its inputs yet demands 100% success will fail. That’s why I have a stack of resumes on my desk for my one open position. I get to control most of my inputs, and staff selection is critical. I don’t simply give them a knowledge test. They are reviewed based on the key indicators of success for the position. Was your child’s teacher given this ability to select?

Charter schools and private schools have always had the ability to ’steer’ students back to the public schools. They do this to control their inputs. Their criteria is often based on the home environment and parental involvement. Do the public schools get to do the same?

We need accountability in education but using the CRCT as the sole measure of a teacher’s performance is a dull tool used by dull people. There is no data supporting its use. As such, using it opens school systems to law suits. Is this where we want to spend our educational dollars?


August 31st, 2011
10:42 am

We need alternatives besides the public system. Mr. Arnold’s excuses just amplify that.

Flim Flam

August 31st, 2011
10:52 am

We need two types of schools: one for smart kids, those headed off to college to become productive citizens, and the other school for the rest. The rest will be destined for fast food, general infantry, lab experiments, soylent green, and of course, Congress.

Lib in Cobb

August 31st, 2011
10:54 am

Standardized testing is the product of the system not allowing good teachers to teach. Standardized testing is an uneven playing field. How can anyone expect a child who has a chaotic home life where their mother is getting the crap beat out of her on a weekly basis because dad or the live in boy friend is nuts or addicted or both. That same home does not have adequate food, that home may be located in a part of town where gun fire interrupts a semi good nights sleep. That home is where the children live, who are expected to compete with the kids from wealthy homes where there is peace (perhaps) but there is good food, computers, expensive tutors, if needed and always a good nights sleep. Oh, I nearly forgot, some of these kids who are expected to compete with all other students in the state could be ESOL.

The playing field is not level now, nor was it level when NCLB was designed, nor will that field ever be level. NCLB was an educational joke written because it looked good, not because it had a chance of working. Thank you, George W. Bush.


August 31st, 2011
10:54 am

instead of feeding the troll here; i just laugh instead

100% by 2014??????

ppl can TALK alll they want ; there is no way we will reach 100%; NCLB was set up to ruin public education. period. the person that started it have admitted to it.

policitans always have an endgame and it has nothing to do with helping students


August 31st, 2011
10:55 am

Amen @jeff. Public schools just whine – mo’ money, mo’ money – but resist any effort at accountability while showering administrators with ridiculous compensation packages.


August 31st, 2011
10:59 am

Mr. Arnold is spot on. Period; as is @Wondering – well said.

Oddly, there is another, similar below-the-radar effort going on in education right now in the form of the Common Core Standards. This effort is being bankrolled and steamrolled by Bill Gates – and just as with NCLB, we are rolling over and taking it.

I consulted in five different states and can categorically report that some states have woefully inadequate standards. In those instances adoption of Core Standards is a good thing.

But if one takes the example of Georgia, our standards were already “blue ribbon” rated and we did not need to adopt CCS. But we are lemmings in education and so we are following everyone else off the cliff.

Oh and we’re also doing it in Race-to-the-Bottom, er -Top, as well.


August 31st, 2011
11:00 am

@Lil – and in order to address the differences in learning ability, the Public School Systems have dumbed down their product so that all kids think they are “winners”. The goal is not to lift kids up – it’s bringing all kids back to the lowest common denominator.


August 31st, 2011
11:00 am

@ funny,

I think the first Bush had the goal that we would be #1 in the world in math and science by 2000, or something like that, too.


August 31st, 2011
11:04 am

Wow, mandating 100% compliance. In standardized testing. Maybe the same thing as mandating that everyone have health insurance?

I disagree with the letter writer. I think NCLB was actually perhaps supposedly implemented so that parents could completely and totally abdicate 100% of responsibility for their children to the schools. Which is completely the opposite of what vouchers would do. So nclb seems that it would put the blame on EVERYONE ELSE (oh, it’s the SCHOOL and the TEACHER that’s couldn’t possibly be that I let my kids play video games all day and stay up til all hours and don’t worry about jr. actually going to school and being respectful…etc…). Not the parent.
SO whatever the ‘real’ conspiracy, can we agree that it SUCKS. And that we really need to get rid of it. And get rid of the federal government’s involvement in education? It would be a beautiful thing if we could create a system where the feds actually helped our education system.
But they’ve had over 30 years to do that. and they’ve only made it worse. so let the states/local govts do what they can. and really – that’s what capitalism is about. if my school system sucks, maybe i can move elsewhere (unfortunately, many people can’t). so you fix your school or go somewhere where there are better schools. more accountability for everyone in the system is much better. but that means everyone. the federal govt just seems to come up with these laws and doesn’t know how to implement them or what to do after the laws are passed (i mean, if you listen to some who helped put the law together, they say: we never thought that it would just come down to thsi testing thing. really/ what did you expect!?).


August 31st, 2011
11:14 am

As a former teacher (and will never return) I applaud Jim Arnold’s confession and really wished he, and so many others, would’ve spoken out when the law first passed. It was a heinous crime Bush did to the teaching profession and educational system thinking that all students learn at the same rate, the same things and can all pass a test that’s about as standard as you can make it. Forget originality or creativity. Forget about higher levels of thought. Most of you commenting here or reading this post probably wouldn’t be able to pass this test.

Yes, our educational system needs reform – but towards the benefit of the student and the schools, not the benefit of the government lessening the important role public education plays in our society. Teachers are already overworked – between the long hours of paperwork and extra workshops they have to attend, including classes in ESL (English as a Second Language), constantly changing curriculum (to accommodate the tests), undisciplined students, etc. – it’s enough to cause teachers to leave the profession in droves.

Arnold is right on in pointing out how inaccurate such testing is when gauging economic and demographics of a school. Mainstreaming was bad enough and now, add to that NCLB? I see kids in colleges now that do not have the thinking skills necessary to follow a path of higher learning. They do not know how to evaluate, synthesize or analyze (the higher levels of learning) in their classes and therefore are struggling to graduate. They’re supposed to learn these skills in their earlier educational years, but since teachers and schools are so adamant about getting passing grades for the test, they end up learning nothing more than how to pass it (mostly by rote learning (memorization)). Is this what we want for our future generations?


August 31st, 2011
11:19 am

(i.e., mandating 100% compliance, or 100% passing…that’s going to fix all the problems, isn’t it?)


August 31st, 2011
11:22 am

I used to hope that my children’s school would NOT make AYP so that it would not be a receiving school for all the kids whose parents were abandoning their south DeKalb schools. The resulting overcrowding some years was ridiculous and unsafe and actually lowered the quality of education for ALL of the kids. So what we wound up with was a few schools in the north end of the county filled to overflowing while brand new schools in south DeKalb sat nearly empty. For a number of years, the DeKalb system even paid for transportation for kids who were being bussed or driven to school. I can’t count the number of times I saw five or more busses leaving our neighborhood school with only a handful of kids onboard. Perhaps that money should have been spent on educating parents in the sending schools’ districts to practice a little more personal responsibility so that their kids would be ready for school and capable of succeeding, not turning their neighborhood schools into places not fit for kids to attend. Maybe the money could have been spent on free birth control so that people would not have more kids than they could afford–financially, physically, and emotionally–to raise well. Why is it that the poorest among us choose to be teenage mothers and fathers? Why do the least capable of supporting themselves have more children than they can handle? Why are so many growing up in single-parent homes? Some circumstances can’t be helped, but many can. If you want better schools, start with more personal responsibility and better parenting. NCLB, standardized testing, transfers, and money won’t solve problems that start in the home.


August 31st, 2011
11:24 am

This is the kind of integrity and leaderhip that is needed in the Atlanta Public Schools.

Maureen: Please consider at some point putting the entire letter in the newspaper.


August 31st, 2011
11:26 am

Jim Arnold For State Superintendent of Education!! Standardized testing is worthless and should be done away with, period.

Thank you Mr. Arnold. Your letter was right on point.


August 31st, 2011
11:26 am

Actually Jim, your protests are about 20 years (or more) too late. When one paints a large, red bullseye on themselves, they shouldn’t act surprised when someone takes potshots at them.

… And public schools painted the bullseye when they began inflating grades, passing students from grade to grade who couldn’t do the work, and graduating illiterates. Politicians, who never pass an opportunity to “solve a crisis” by enacting legislation, jumped at the chance to enact NCLB to solve the “education crisis.”

I don’t have much sympathy for self-inflicted wounds. Public education did this to themselves. Unfortunately, our children are the ones who suffer the consequences.


August 31st, 2011
11:26 am

and by the way, when I *did* send my resume to APS to see about a math teaching position, they emailed back saying they didn’t have any more positions open. Hmmm…cause the article in today’s AJC indicates that parents are hopping mad that their kids don’t have an actual math teacher in the classroom.

Go Tell it on the Mountain

August 31st, 2011
11:31 am

Hallelujah! This man is a prophet and deserves a presidential badge of honor.

James in Athens

August 31st, 2011
11:33 am

Public schools are just not very good in Georgia Period.
We live in Oconee County which has very few problems but
one(we have 4)of our Elementary Schools just wants to dumb down
the smarter kids and keep them with the rest of the class…
The Principal’s response is there are not enough Smart Kids this
year to have hire a PACE teacher for Math… What a joke…
Maybe the schools do nothing Principal could take a pay cut
cause she’s just been cashing the checks the 5 years we have been
there… Glad this is our final year at this school….


August 31st, 2011
11:37 am

Today’s AJC article: Always be skeptical of how things appear.

Our principal came to each teacher and said make sure your room has at least two parents who will be positive and not talk about cheating at the meeting. We are scared.

Spot On

August 31st, 2011
11:38 am

Says it all ——-

They didn’t want to change the policy, because the policy was designed in theory and in fact not to aid education but to create an image of a failed public school system in order to further the implementation of vouchers and the diversion of public education funds to private schools.

The Title of this Movie could be………..

Tax payers dollars at work?


What special interests?


Legislating from the Bench?

Dr NO aka Mr Sunshine

August 31st, 2011
11:40 am

Some children are going to fall between the cracks. Ya cant educate/save them all. Thats just the way it is.

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2011
11:45 am

I am in a hurry this morning. Have to ride all over the place today. So, please indulge my bluntness and candor.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was just a national, suped-up version of Georgia’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) program. It’s all based upon the false assumption that if children aren’t learning, then it is because the teacher is not teaching. 100% false assumption. You have to attack the assumptions first. This is the false assumption. Johnny is scoring like a moron. Therefore, we need to re-train the teachers and make them accountable for Johnny’s failure. Well, they still call me Johnny in Columbus…where I grew up. My family still calls me Johnny. And I am here to tell you that I scored as a “moron” on an achievement test in elementary school. The principal, Mr. Brombaugh, called my father to tell him my score. My father was also an administrator in the school system. I had obliquely heard my parents discussing my I. Q. test score(s) once. But, this was very oblique. This is not something that they would discuss in front of the kids. I knew that I was plenty smart. But, I just didn’t care. The darn achievement tests simply bored me. I just marked down “answers.” Now, who was to blame? I was.

I got my rear end in place when I had to. Mrs. Herring, my fifth grade teacher, did not play. She was strict, and I was afraid of her. I made straight As in her class. It all boiled down to motivation to learn. Motivation to learn is what these numbskull educrats and policy-makers simply overlook — or don’t want to pay attention to. It boils down to discipline as well. This is very important. The teachers have to be supported in the classroom. It also boils down to intelligence. Some kids just are not as sharp academically as other kids. This is just a cold fact. Do we blame the teachers for this. A quick story (used this in our first MACE magazine in 1995): My sister was teaching First Grade in Columbus. She had a child in class who simply couldn’t keep up. In fact, no matter what my sister did (and she was a terrific teacher!), he could not grasp hardly anything. My sister so dreaded having to inform his mother that it would be best if her child was retained in the First Grade…to give him the time to hopefully mature enough to learn to read. So the big meeting came. My sister gingerly and very sensitively explain to the mother that her child was so far behind the other kids and that it would simply be better to let him repeat the First Grade. She asked the mother if she had any questions at all. The mother asked: “Yes, I do. When will the Halloween Party be taking place?” Needless to say, my sister was dumbfounded.

Another quick story. Also used this in our first magazine in 1995. A teacher in South Fulton told me that she had the class participating in some form of “Show and Tell.” My little elementary student proudly blurted out: “My dad can break into houses!”

I always said that QBE stood for “Quit Being an Educator” or “Quit Brutalizing Educators.” No Child Left Behind (NCLB) made QBE look like Ned in the First Reader. It is horrendous. It is pure bullsh-t, if you will indulge me. None of it smacks with the reality of what is involved in the public schooling process. It has produced super-hero-educational-frauds like Beverly Hall, Ron Paige, and Michelle Rhee. It has inflicted physical and mental damage on otherwise very good educators. It has created a cheating culture. It has reduced the curriculum to the most shallow and inane and ridiculous parroting of some arbitrary “core.” Kids are not taught to think…because this will not be measured on the tests. Vocational curriculum that keeps many children in schools and allows them to enter the job market with meaningful jobs is jettisoned because the almighty standardized tests do not measure this. Same thing for recess, P. E., and the varied arts. Even yesterday, I was talking to an Atlanta teacher who said that they were told that the black males in their school could not be suspended because this would throw their demographic numbers out of line. It would skew the numbers for the NCLB report. Don’t you know that the kids then know that your hands are tied and that they can act the fool in the classrooms and in the school in general?

NCLB and QBE are bullsh-t and should be thrown into the ash heap of failed educational experiences. They should be hauled down to the Valley of Gehenna and piled up on the rest of the dead carcasses so that they rot and are eaten by the buzzards. I do indeed believe that that was some sense of conspiracy behind NCLB. I believe that the Business Roundtable pushed it. Billions (literally billions) of dollars were made off of NCLB. This entire overhaul (for the worse) of public education in the United States because of NCLB reminds me of the arms dealings and the profit of war. I am sorry, but I smelled a rat from the very beginning. It stunk then and it still stinks. Get rid of both…NCLB and QBE and let teachers teach! (c) MACE, August 31, 2011.

Note: In a hurry. Typing ferociously and no time to check for typos. Please forgive.


August 31st, 2011
11:45 am

Thank you Jim Arnold. Every word of you letter is correct.


August 31st, 2011
11:48 am

Mr. Arnold is 100 per cent correct in his assessment. And he is also correct that this will never completely go away. I wish I worked for him. This is the best article I have ever seen, and his conspiracy allegation is also correct. I wsh I thought people would listen but they will not, as judged by the 48 comments ahead of mine.

Kay G. Baxter.

August 31st, 2011
11:48 am

Someone needs to explain to Good Mother the difference between a criterion referenced test like the CRCT and a norm referenced test like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. The NCLB is an abomination designed to destroy the public schools. I am so glad to be retired. I am so sorry for those who are still trying to be good teachers.

Double Reverse Racism

August 31st, 2011
11:49 am

This might sound odd, but

Beverly Hall was a racist of the worst sort. We need someone like Jim Arnold to head our schools- A compassionate person who really understands what teaching and learning is all about.

I am a proud African American APS teacher who truly cares


August 31st, 2011
11:49 am

Looking forward to the educator who proposes Forget about The Kids At the Margin. Or maybe Give US More Money and Forget About Results.

The education world is in deep trouble. NCLB is a grossly imperfect system. But the education leaders are forfeiting the support of the moms and dads who used to be the backbone of supporting teachers and principals in their local schools.

Wait till the SPLOSTS come up for a vote next time.

Really amazed

August 31st, 2011
11:50 am

@Pompano, so true!!! I am a little confussed though… Maureen wrote an article the other day about uga and tech becoming more and more competitive to get into. Yes, I do believe that these students have had major test prep for these sat/act. It is just a part of the big game now!!!!!! Very sad, but true. The HOPE scholarship is part of the problem. Good, yet bad. Get to go for a cut fee but it is hurting critical learning of many. NCLB not child get to truly move forward. It just might get you into a great college though!!!

Really amazed

August 31st, 2011
11:52 am

Sorry, NCLB means, no child gets to truly move forward. Hit the send button too soon!

A Breath of Freesh Air

August 31st, 2011
11:59 am

Mr. Arnold must have a highly intelligent, progressive and well read board of education. They are to be commended to have someone of his statue to represent the Pelham City Schools.

Thank you Maureen for publishing his letter. It is one that I will always cherish.

A Breath of Fresh Air

August 31st, 2011
12:00 pm

Mr. Arnold must have a highly intelligent, progressive and well read board of education. They are to be commended to have someone of his statue to represent the Pelham City Schools. Thank you Maureen for publishing his letter. It is one that I will always cherish.

HS Public Teacher

August 31st, 2011
12:02 pm

Jim Arnold speaks the truth. NCLB was a creation of the “upper class” to push vouchers (and the like) into public favor. If you cannot see this, please re-read his article. It is true.


August 31st, 2011
12:11 pm

If enough parents would refuse to allow their kids to take the tests, things would change. What is a school system going to do, hold back every kid. I don’t think so.


August 31st, 2011
12:11 pm

Georgia needs leaders like Jim Arnold. America needs leaders like Jim Arnold.

A man of character who willing to speak against the odds in pursuit of what is best for children!

He nees to be the State Superintendent of Education…even better….the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Charter schools are PUBLIC schools

August 31st, 2011
12:13 pm

“Vouchers – especially for private and charter schools”

This guy is the school system superintendent, and he doesn’t know the difference between a voucher and a charter school? That basic lack of knowledge is simply unacceptable when it is coming from the head educator of a school system.

Charter = public schools
Vouchers = money sent to privates schools

Dr. Arnold, here is the link to a FAQ on charter schools at the Georgia DOE site for you to study. You REALLY need to study it.

I feel sorry for any charter applicants in Pelham.

Once Again

August 31st, 2011
12:15 pm

Those of us who actually know the proper and constitutional role for the federal government have been speaking out against federal involvement in education since the unconstitutional Department of Education was created in 1979. The constitution authorizes absolutely NO role for the federal government in education and Bush’s push for this horrible legislation just further enhances his standing as one of our most unconstitutional presidents.

Oh, in case any of you teachers out there want to spout out some crap about the “necessary and proper” clause as the justification for the ED or any other federal overreach, check out this great article from today’s Daily Iowan by constitutional scholar and best selling author Tom Woods:

With only 5000 employees, the ED spends billions on nothing, educates nobody, creates 95% of all the regulations that destroy local schools, and should be immediately abolished. Newt and his useless republican revolution were supposed to do just that, but once again we see the problem with trusting unprincipled republicans who are more concerned with getting elected than upholding conservative principles.

Children will not be helped by switching deck chairs on the Titanic, and that is all that is really going on when a child is allowed to switch to yet another government-run school. Vouchers will just allow the govnerment to destroy the private sector of education. What is needed is a complete abolition of all government schooling in favor of homeschooling, private schooling, charity schools, and whatever a truly free and unrestricted market may creatively deliver to the parents of this nation.


August 31st, 2011
12:16 pm

@ Lib in Cobb

“NCLB was an educational joke written because it looked good, not because it had a chance of working. Thank you, George W. Bush.”

Now now there…let’s not start the Bush blaming. NCLB was a liberal idea brought forth by Ted Kennedy and the dems…foolishly, signed into law by GB. NCLB had unrealistic goals which made the writers of the bill feel good about themselves and their liberal worldview. This is a failure of LIBERALISM.

Maureen Downey

August 31st, 2011
12:18 pm

@Charters, To be fair, I have heard “voucher” used in the public school context of students from one district leaving the system to cross district lines to attend a state commissioned charter in another county. (An example would be the DeKalb students who attended a state commission charter in Gwinnett.)
At some point, we will have to come up with precise language for the increasing choice landscape as the conventional terms don’t work well now.

HS Public Teacher

August 31st, 2011
12:24 pm

Good Mother – I’m sorry, but standardized testing does not measure teacher effectiveness. It measures student knowledge. These two things can be mutually exclusive and THAT is the problem.

I agree that a “bad” teacher should not be teaching. However, the NCLB approach is not the answer. The answer is for that principal to grow a spine and use the teacher evaluation tool already in place properly.

In any given school, everyone knows who is a “good” teacher versus a “bad” teacher. It is no secret. The problem is simply that the administration will not do anything to fix it. So, the real problem here is “bad” administration.

I hope that you can see my point and use your efforts to fix the administration. That will then help correct what you see as a “bad” teacher problem.


August 31st, 2011
12:27 pm

More whining from another failure that fears the end of his feeding from the public trough. Nothing new to see here.

Ringing Ears

August 31st, 2011
12:28 pm

I hope Jim Arnold writes a book on the hypocrisy of current educational policy. He is saying what others are afraid to mention.

There is something about truth; once read, it continues to reverberate. My ears are ringing.


August 31st, 2011
12:28 pm

Lots of blame being thrown around here. But this is the core issue: why do we continue to throw federal dollars at education? If it were a money problem, wouldn’t we see better results from those school systems that spend more?

Seems to me that maybe we ought to stop looking for federal handouts, and instead let every community decide what a quality education means to them. Those who think money is the answer, let them pay (via higher taxes). Bottom line is that the solutions of the past 40 years have not helped, despite continued and rapid growth of government involvement (especially at the federal level). So unless you can show the data that demonstrates how federal bureaucrats and $ make education better, maybe we should pull back from these ill-conceived solutions and look for solutions that really work.

Kevin Smith

August 31st, 2011
12:29 pm

Good Mother is an idiot