Why Mrs. Bush is Wrong About No Child Left Behind (bad analogies part 2)

In a USA Today article Mrs. Bush defended the No Child Left Behind act. Apparently she didn’t read my blog post about not using bad analogies. In the article she says, “We would never go to a doctor and say, ‘I’m sick, you can’t try to diagnose me … you can’t use any kind of test.”

What’s wrong with this analogy? Nothing, so long as you don’t mind the fact that in the analogy the students are the doctors and the eduction system is the sick patient. But actually, this is accidentally a pretty good analogy in some ways. The testing system does treat education system as sickly and makes the students work to diagnosis it. The question then becomes, why are the students the ones with qualifications, and why is the education system so unqualified? And is that even true?

Mrs. Bush explains how the US education system is failing, saying that “poor kids… make it to the fifth grade and can’t read, or make it to the ninth grade and drop out.” But what does this really say? For one it says we already know the problem. Why make the patients into the doctor, forcing them to relentlessly test the system. If we are to believe Mrs. Bush’s assessment then the issue is clearly underfunded school systems in poor communities. Well, that along with a host of other economic class related issues.

It seems most people would agree that the education system in the US needs to improve and we know where and how it is fail to live up to its potential. What remains unclear is how testing achieves that.