Friday, November 07, 2003

No Child Left Behind: The Potemkin Plan for Education

School Violence Data Under a Cloud in Houston
In the last four school years, the Houston district's own police, who patrol its 80 middle and high schools, have entered 3,091 assaults into a database that is shared with the Houston city police but not with the Texas Education Agency in Austin.

In the same period, the Houston district itself has listed just 761 schoolhouse assaults on its annual disciplinary summaries sent to Austin. That means that the school authorities either have not reported or have reclassified 2,330 incidents described as assaults by the district's police.

This is only one in quite a series of similar NYT articles. Principals and other school administrators are no different from physicians, pilots, police and marines. If you punish them for bad outcomes, but don't provide incentive or means or tools to really improve outcomes, then the inevitable outcome is bad data showing good outcomes.

The Houston program is particularly pernicious. It removes principals from schools with bad outcomes. This is a wonderful way to select for dishonesty. You eliminate the honest and conscientious, so only the dishonest remain. Perfect.

The national "No Child Left Behind" program is based on this Houston program.

As goes Houston, so goes America. Thank you again Mr. Bush.

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