Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Road to Hell, Paving Department

From smart NASA guy and regular reader Steevil, a link to an article about the far-reaching consequences of the No Child Left Behind Act in Lil' Rhody:

RONALD R. BLAIS, Staff Reporter

LINCOLN--Karen Adams always enjoyed receiving her invitation. The WPRI-TV news anchorwoman and Lincoln resident looked forward to penciling in the school district’s spelling bee in her appointment calendar.

But there’s no note in her calendar this year. The Lincoln district has decided to eliminate this year’s spelling bee -- a competition involving pupils in grades 4 through 8, with each school district winner advancing to the state competition and a chance to proceed to the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C.

But whatever for!?

[...] Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Newman said the decision to scuttle the event was reached shortly after the January 2004 bee in a unanimous decision by herself and the district’s elementary school principals.

The administrators decided to eliminate the spelling bee, because they feel it runs afoul of the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"No Child Left Behind says all kids must reach high standards," Newman said. "It’s our responsibility to find as many ways as possible to accomplish this."

The administrators agreed, Newman said, that a spelling bee doesn’t meet the criteria of all children reaching high standards -- because there can only be one winner, leaving all other students behind.

"It’s about one kid winning, several making it to the top and leaving all others behind. That’s contrary to No Child Left Behind," Newman said.

Somehow, I get the feeling that someone, possibly an assistant superintendent of schools, might not appreciate it being pointed out that her particular views regarding the intent of various federal education laws might be brought on by a severe lack of cognitive skills.

I also wonder if it's so ungood for children to be left behind and not be treated equally, why is there such a thing as a school board? You know, since everyone can't be the superintendent, it's obviously ungood that there be this sort of artificial hierarchy.

A spelling bee, she continued, is about "some kids being winners, some kids being losers."

As a result, the spelling bee "sends a message that this isn’t an all-kids movement," Newman said.

Furthermore, professional organizations now frown on competition at the elementary school level and are urging participation in activities that avoid winners, Newman said. That’s why there are no sports teams at the elementary level, she said as an example.

The emphasis today, she said, is on building self-esteem in all students.

Because Gaia forbid we emphasize TEACHING THEM TO READ AND SPELL!

"You have to build positive self-esteem for all kids, so they believe they’re all winners," she said. "You want to build positive self-esteem so that all kids can get to where they want to go." [...]

"And then, when they're adults and realize the real world operates on the basis of risk and rewards, and that success requires knowledge, and that not everyone can be a winner everytime, and that they got fooled by a bunch of self-serving lardy-bottoms with cushy no-accountability jobs, well, then we can all sit back and laugh our butts off at them for being such gullible little stupid kids! Right!?"

[...]The administrators’ decision to eliminate the bee wasn’t a difficult one, Newman said.

"There was no debate at all. It was one of the easiest decisions," the assistant superintendent said because "there was no question among the administrators" that a spelling bee was "contrary to the expectations" of No Child Left Behind.

Yes, why debate? It might require thought.

Time to get new administrators, Lincoln.

I'm no great fan of spelling bees--I've posted several times on my kids' outings with the competitions. Some people rightly note that being a good speller isn't necessarily a sign of high intelligence, and also rightly that sometimes emphasis is placed on spelling that could better be spent on cognition and critical thinking skills. And some kids (and their parents) do get too caught up in the competitive element. I think it is bad for those kids, because, let's face it, it's IS just a spelling bee, not rocket surgery. (Thanks for that metaphor, LittleA.) But to sit there and yammer that competition is inherently damaging, simply because it requires that someone win and someone lose, and that NOT competing somehow builds "positive self-esteem," well, it's just inane.

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