Education

An Unlikely Pair Finds Common Ground on NCLB

May 09, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

You wouldn’t expect Charles Murray and Richard Rothstein to agree on anything.

Murray, a co-author of The Bell Curve, is a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute—the Bush administration’s think tank of choice for foreign policy. Rothstein, a tilting-at-windmills researcher who has tried to debunk many assumptions behind current school reforms, is a liberal that works for the Economic Policy Institute—the labor movement’s think tank of choice.

But Murray, on your left, and Rothstein, on your right, agree on one thing: NCLB is bad policy.

NCLB is a “a monumental mess,” Murray writes in a new essay for The New Criterion. NCLB is a “failed” law, Rothstein wrote in The American Prospect in December.

Murray on NCLB’s goal of universal proficiency: “The notion of making all children proficient in math and reading is ridiculous.” Rothstein wrote a 2007 paper entitled “‘Proficiency for All'—An Oxymoron.”

Murray in The New Criterion: NCLB, like all policies spawning from what he calls education romanticism, “asks too much from students at the bottom of the intellectual pile, asks the wrong things from those in the middle, and asks too little from those at the top. It short-changes all of them.”

Rothstein in the 2007 paper: “The conceptual basis of NCLB is deeply flawed; no goal can simultaneously be challenging to and achievable by all students across the entire achievement distribution.”

Murray and Rothstein wouldn’t agree on how to fix federal policy. But they—and others across the political spectrum—believe its time to start over.

Hat tip: I discovered Murray’s essay through Checker Finn’s critique of it in this week’s Gadfly.

UPDATE: Eduwonk says this debate over determinism is “the next hot thing!”

Jay Greene e-mailed me to say he fact-checked Murray and Rothstein in the Fall 2007 issue of Education Next. “The net effect of their arguments is to provide aid and comfort to those who would resign themselves to the educational status quo and explain away the school system’s shortcomings,” he wrote in a story headlined “The Odd Couple.” Who is Oscar and who is Felix?

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Letter to the Editor EdWeek's Most-Read Letters of 2022
Here are this year’s top five Letters to the Editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Education In Their Own Words Withstanding Trauma, Leading With Honesty, and More: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our journalists highlight why stories on the impact of trauma on schooling and the fallout of the political discourse on race matter to the field.
4 min read
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
Education In Their Own Words Masking, Miscarriages, and Mental Health: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our reporters share the stories they wrote that rose above the fray—and why.
5 min read
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Allison V. Smith for Education Week
Education Opinion The Top 10 Rick Hess Straight Up Columns of 2022
NAEP, pre-K, who decides what gets taught. Those are among the most popular or impactful posts of the year.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty