Tha Artivist on Gee:
This is my friend Dr. Duncan’s powerful essay on the shortcomings of the government policy known as No Child Left Behind… Garrett Albert Duncan is associate professor of education, of African and African-American studies, and of American culture studies @ Washington University in St. Louis...Although I never took an official class from Dr. Duncan a.k.a. Gee during my “artist in residency tenure” @ Wash U., I always enjoyed free flowing conversations, lessons and food for thought that this wonderful teacher and mentor provided during his office hours on several occasions…He was always a brother with a good word to say yet he was also a brother who always freely spoke his mind which made what he said even more refreshing and sincere…He was also one of my first true supporters or art patrons @ Wash U. outside of Boss and Doc Toliver to buy art from a still starving yet well fed brother like myself…
Although we have clashed and became “intellectual pugilists” on several distinct occasions concerning our views on race, sexuality, religion, sports, education, politics, etc., I still have much respect for this strong Black man who (like me) is passionate about his beliefs and 'the cause'…I myself realized with the passage of time and the gaining of insight that it is o.k. to have different points of views as long as respect for other people’s difference of opinions are practiced…
However, it is always important that you let people know where you stand, regardless of their assumed authority or stature and relationship to you whether professional or familial, because respect is never given it must be taken by being assertive, insistent and persistent…You will never know what you are made of until you go up against some form of opposition and adversity regardless the source…Much love and thanks to Dr. Duncan for making me an even more resilient intellectual and cultural warrior…
As Marcus Garvey and Gee would say, “Look for me in the whirl wind…”
R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
Courtesy of the Washington University in St. Louis Magazine…
The Pitfalls of No Child Left Behind
By Garrett Albert Duncan
The 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the cornerstone of President George W. Bush’s domestic policy during his first term, marked the broadest expansion of the federal government into K–12 schooling since Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Enacted amid much fanfare and with broad, bipartisan support, NCLB was also met with initial skepticism, especially among those still disillusioned with the events from a few months earlier that had brought the president into office.
Yes, Chaka whipped the conservative gathering into a frenetic boogie with her soul-stirring rendition of I Feel for You, and the name of the act does indeed have a “kinder, gentler” feel to it. However, as far as the president’s detractors were concerned, no gesture could persuade them that his administration would be any more inclusive than those of the Republican past or that his brand of conservatism was any more compassionate than previous versions of it.
Its naysayers notwithstanding, though, NCLB does include remarkably explicit calls to eliminate educational inequality and to reduce performance disparities among children from different racial and economic backgrounds. Not since Brown had federal policy taken such strong measures to compel school districts across the nation to seriously educate all children.
Many states still chafe at NCLB’s restrictions and, some, with good reasons. However, complaints that the federal act violates local authority smack of the sad irony of states aligning themselves with the likes of Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus who in 1957 defied a federal court order to integrate an all-white Little Rock high school or with those who in 1960 compelled federal marshals to escort little Ruby Bridges as she integrated a New Orleans’ elementary school.
Indeed, NCLB’s egalitarian rhetoric makes it difficult for states to criticize the act without appearing to succumb to what President Bush calls the “soft bigotry of low expectations” that frustrates efforts to educate all children. At the same time, recent under-publicized Bush administration cuts to education spending severely undermine the capacity of public school officials to comply with NCLB’s mandate. Such bait-and-switch tactics warrant especially strong rebuke and action.
Whether entering the work force or enrolling in college, young people need to be highly skilled to survive and flourish in our contemporary post-industrial society. Both colleges and universities require of the students they admit the same skills and knowledge base that employers demand of high school graduates they employ: people who can communicate clearly, analyze information, and solve complex problems on the fly. These are the very skills that are compromised in the unbridled pursuit of increasing test scores.