Judging from the inelegant diction, misunderestimated statistics, dubious logic, and MBA buzzwords, you might think it's Bush in 2001. But it's Obama last week in his big education speech. The shout-out to Massachusetts is the most obvious give-away.
So let's challenge our states -- let's challenge our states to adopt world-class standards that will bring our curriculums to the 21st century. Today's system of 50 different sets of benchmarks for academic success means 4th grade readers in Mississippi are scoring nearly 70 points lower than students in Wyoming -- and they're getting the same grade. Eight of our states are setting their standards so low that their students may end up on par with roughly the bottom 40 percent of the world.That's inexcusable. That's why I'm calling on states that are setting their standards far below where they ought to be to stop low-balling expectations for our kids. The solution to low test scores is not lowering standards -- it's tougher, clearer standards. (Applause.) Standards like those in Massachusetts, where 8th graders are -- (applause) -- we have a Massachusetts contingent here. (Laughter.) In Massachusetts, 8th graders are now tying for first -- first in the whole world in science.
But it's the same cargo cult mentality that thinks that the big difference between students in Mississippi and students in Massachusetts is that Massachusetts' grades them tougher on state achievement tests to see if they are "proficient" in math and reading, so, therefore, the Massachusetts students Rise to Meet the Challenge.
In reality, Massachusetts has been the intellectual center of North America since the 1600s, and Mississippi has not. And the toughness of the grading of the Massachusetts test doesn't have much of anything to do with it. As I pointed out in VDARE a couple of years ago, Massachusetts is one of the toughest graders, but the toughest grader of all is ... Louisiana.
As I explained, The basic problem, which Obama didn't mention, is the NCLB's
most important and implausible requirement: "that all children should reach a proficient level of academic achievement by 2014" in math and reading.
It's nuts.... In the current NCLB, which was largely the result of an alliance between President Bush and Senator Kennedy ... . Each state is allowed to concoct its own test to determine whether its own students have reached "proficiency," which the state can define however it pleases.
Not surprisingly, practically every single state cheats in order to meet the law. For example, Mississippi, that intellectual powerhouse, recently declared that 89 percent of its 4th graders were at least "proficient" in reading.
Unfortunately, however, on the federal government's impartial National Assessment of Educational Progress test, only 18 percent of Mississippi students were "proficient" or "advanced."
Overall, the typical state claimed that 68 percent of its 4th graders were proficient readers, compared to the 30 percent found by the honest NAEP.