Opinion
Federal Letter to the Editor

Reader Questions ‘Progressive’ Commentary

May 13, 2013 1 min read

To the Editor:

David Bernstein is correct that progressives need to offer a positive school improvement agenda (“It’s Time to Mainstream Progressive Education”, April 3, 2013). Unfortunately, he fails to recognize that many sound initiatives already exist. At the same time, his Commentary offers some questionable ideas.

The harm to educational quality and equity caused by the No Child Left Behind Act and its progeny must be exposed by the progressive movement. That damage is what inspires growing numbers of teachers, parents, and students to resist high-stakes testing and school closings.

To turn the tide, this burgeoning movement must critique destructive policy and propose educationally sound programs. There’s no lack of good proposals. The problem is that powerful forces don’t want to hear them.

A perfect example is Mr. Bernstein’s description of The Washington Post attacking Joshua Starr’s opposition to testing overkill while simultaneously ignoring his excellent ideas.

Mr. Bernstein’s suggestion of working with business groups sounds reasonable. But why, after the evidence shows that NCLB has failed by its own primary measuring stick, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, do the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and similar groups remain wedded to high-stakes testing? If they remain impervious to evidence, what would it take for them to change? Mr. Bernstein is silent on that crucial point.

The Forum on Educational Accountability, or FEA, which I chair, has presented a positive agenda since its 2004 joint organizational statement on No Child Left Behind. Strong ideas have come from many sources, including unions, civil rights groups, religious organizations, researchers, and advocates. The FEA has proposals for overhauling NCLB accountability, testing, improvement, and turnarounds.

We also make the case for adequate funding and equitable opportunity to learn. A “robust movement” is emerging as we speak. Its growth and success will require far stronger strategizing than Mr. Bernstein provides.

Monty Neill

Executive Director

FairTest

Boston, Mass.

The author has chaired the Forum on Educational Accountability since its formation in 2003.

A version of this article appeared in the May 15, 2013 edition of Education Week as Reader Questions ‘Progressive’ Commentary

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Federal Congress Again Tries to Pass Eagles Act, Focused on School Shootings After Parkland
A group of bipartisan Congressional lawmakers is once again trying to get a law passed aimed at preventing school violence.
Devoun Cetoute & Carli Teproff
2 min read
Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2019 during the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2019 during the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal Some Districts Extend Paid Leave Policies as They Hope for Passage of Biden Relief Plan
With federal provisions having expired, some school employees have had to dip into their own banks of leave for COVID-19 purposes.
5 min read
Linda Davila-Macal, a seventh grade reading teacher at BL Garza Middle School in Edinburg, Texas, works from her virtual classroom at her home on Aug. 31, 2020.
A teacher leads a virtual classroom from her home.
Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP
Federal President Biden Is Walking a 'Careful Tightrope' When It Comes to School Reopenings
CDC guidance and confusion over his rhetoric turn up the pressure, and could overshadow progress in schools and nuanced public opinion.
9 min read
President Joe Biden answers questions during a televised town hall event at Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Feb. 16, 2021.
President Joe Biden answers questions during a televised town hall event in Milwaukee earlier this month.
Evan Vucci/AP
Federal White House Unveils New Money to Aid COVID-19 Testing in Schools, But Says More Is Needed
Federal agencies will use $650 million to expand testing in schools and "underserved communities" such as homeless shelters.
2 min read
Image of a coronavirus test swab.
The White House announced new money to help schools test students and staff for COVID-19, but it said more aid is necessary to scale up those efforts.
E+