No Child Left Behind? More Like No Child Left Untested.

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About Warren Blumenfeld

Warren J. Blumenfeld, College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense).


  1. Luke Davis says:

    I don’t understand how you can have education without showing them how to be creative. That is the whole point of having education – to have the tools to create things – to build, to draw, to design, to fix, to paint, to compose, to organize, to solve, to manage. Education without creativity is useless. Any idiot can throw a book at a river but it takes creativity to build a bridge over it using the knowledge in that book. If we don’t teach our kids how to live in a place where they can imagine solutions to problems and challenges using the history found in the knowdledge we have already learnt, well it’s it’s going to be a very dull place. I see it in my daughter (8yo) no one at school is showing her the connection between knowledge and creativity, that knowledge is a tool used when creating the most beautiful things in the world, that she should take that knowledge and work out how to change the world with it, to use the information learnt from our ancestors and use it to make the world an amazing place.

    The connection between a child’s drawing, lego building, their songs, their explorations and knowledge needs to be encouraged, I think they lose their spark because they can no longer see the connection between their dreams, visions of the future and how to achieve them with the knowledge being taught.

  2. Aren’t educational outcomes mostly dependant on the equality of educational opportunity and delivery? The countries that are most equal overall or where educational opportunity is very equally provided do the best: Finland, Norway, Korea, Japan, Singapore etc. Countries of middling equality such as the other English-speaking nations like the UK, Canada, Australia tend to be next and then more unequal countries like the U.S come next. It seems more important than the detail of the education systems. That seems to be a bit of the problem for the U.S to me (I’m Australian btw) where competition and self-sufficiency and not too much of a safety net are part of the wider culture. Australia, like the other English-speaking countries probably lies somewhere between Northern Europe and the U.S in terms of public acceptance of government intervention and welfare to address inequality. As economies develop and wealth grows, inequality in the US and countries like my own will increase and without intervention the result might be continued falling education standards.

    • @Matt Grant Norway’s education isn’t good, either.

      30th in Maths, 6 places above the US, which isn’t much.

      31st in Science, 3 places below the US.

      22nd in reading, 2 places above the US.

      Sweden is even worse than the US and Norway, despite being almost as egalitarian as the latter and far more than the former. Also Australia’s education is alright. Better than the UK’s, US and Norway’s at least. Also, I’d argue the UK is just as bad as the US, but we scored a bit higher.

  3. Imagine sitting on an exam table. The physician walks in, takes a seat and stares at you. “Warren, I want you to take this high blood pressure pill, it will do you good.”
    Enter prior knowledge.
    The doc has done this a long time, his last 17 patients who had the look and age of you had HBP, so must you. Your prior knowledge is activated by knowing your father had HBP and so does your neighbor Bob.
    Is prior knowledge the universal cure? Or would you rather the doctor physically test your blood pressure?
    I have heard this argument of prior knowledge, student centered and peer learning before.
    Didn’t it come to be this way when businesses demanded that employees know how to collaborate and play ideas off each other, so that this group of human capital be capable of generating one idea that they would all share credit in. How nice it must be to play football on a manicured field where everyone wears the same uniform, knows all the plays and each player is credited with one player’s touchdown.
    I have children with disabilities, one in particular is significantly LD. I have advocated in over 700 IEP meetings, have taught parents how to game the system and embarrassed a fair amount of educators.
    Special Education students are forgotten in the reformist ideal of constructivism or pedagogical ideologies. This population is subjected to hundreds of tests, yet the data junkies and teachers ignore these results and insist that a child who scores at a fourth grade level be taught the same 9th grade math class. I have seen it deployed in countless grades, schools and across all level of disability.
    Critical thinking, executive function and creativity needs to take place at the head of the classroom, where a teacher needs to recognize that not one curriculum fits all, not every child is accepted within a peer group and the tried and true lesson plan is good enough.
    Teachers are famous for pointing out that attitudes towards learning start at home, but every study ever done reflects that SE parents volunteer more, attend more meetings and are at the forefront of their child’s educational planning. The barrier to educational progress comes from the adults across the table. The ones who refuse to stray from the norm, the ones who insist that the disabled child overcome their disability and activate their own learning and fall in line.
    I need my son tested routinely, so I can have evidence of the establishment not doing their job and take them to task. Everyone if afraid of the Common Core, why? Scared to find out that little Johnny can’t handle the workload and his feelings may get damaged. Is it really better for Johnny to share in a group grade, when 2 kids did all the work?
    Has the culture of student centered learning cured the epidemic need of remedial math classes in college? Perhaps teacher colleges shouldn’t let everyone and anyone sign up, raise that bar.
    All this fear and anxiety is coming from parents and educators, afraid they have to work harder, play less soccer after school, pay for tutoring. SO what? The results we have today were forged long ago with cheap curriculums and the lure of taking the task of teaching away from the teacher and placing the child in charge. Now suddenly the seeds planted long ago bear bitter fruit.
    Shouldn’t we want to stop giving out trophies to every kid who shows up. The kid whose parent makes them practice shouldn’t share the stage with the kid whose parent didn’t.
    I learned to play poker for money at my father’s knee, I was never given a break because of my age and I didn’t share the pot when someone else won. Most importantly, I learned that the dealer wasn’t to blame for the cards I got. You play the cards that life gives you, weather you win or lose is how you play them and in knowing the game.
    Some say I got dealt a bad hand, the kids in my son’s K class 13yrs ago are medicated, in day programs and can’t be left alone. My son isn’t on meds, does laundry and can shop with a list and debit card, can shave and can be left alone. He needs hand over hand instruction, my son isn’t cattle.
    Tell me how over 75 educators over 13 years never saw that and how one HS educated mom took him further than the professionals ever could.
    It’s time to get back to basics and play in the dirt before you play on the turf.

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