What's the secret? Simply this:
No Child Left Behind justifies "white flight" from low income public schools.
Steve Rawley, the man behind the levers at PPS Equity, said as much in his comment to OPB's Think Out Loud discussion about Oregon's recent NCLB school failures:
"By branding a school as 'failing', we give middle class, white families a socially acceptable way to justify transferring their kids out of schools with large populations of poor and minority students."
I couldn't agree more. In fact I've written about "white flight" several times on this blog. But I've focused my criticisms on Portland Public Schools own school choice and transfer policies, which long predate NCLB. It's sheer delusion to believe that students and their parents request transfers for purely academic reasons.
Now with NCLB's mandated transfer option for any student, regardless of race, income, and test scores, attending a school that fails to meet the federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards for two years running, there's no reason any longer to pretend.
Just request the transfer and you're out of there, no questions asked, at the district's expense.
On the live OPB program, local activist Peter Campbell --he pulled his daughter from PPS because of the testing regimen-- challenged the two flacks from the U.S. Department of Education and Portland Public Schools, respectively, to justify No Child Left Behind's punitive and test-centric approach to improving public schools. In fact he now has an open letter to PPS spokesperson Sarah Carlin Ames up on PPS Equity inviting her to clarify her apparent defense of NCLB --the worst she would say is that the law was "odd"-- by claiming that it was working at schools like "Rigler and Clark".
As Campbell points out, district teachers disagree.
That's why I strongly suggest that the new Congress flatly reject the reauthorization of NCLB in any form.