chapter  5
15 Pages

The No Child Left Behind Act: Making Decisions Without Data or Other Reality Checks

A very strange thing happens to many people’s thinking when education is the topic: they do not make use of reality checks, including knowledge of basic mathematics and fundamental statistical concepts, critical thinking, and data. They seem to assume that education operates in an alternate universe in which realities do not apply at all or may safely be assumed to be trivial or irrelevant to the task of teaching students. They seem not to make logical connections between words and their referents, not to employ basic concepts, not to demand reliable data, and not to engage in logical inductive or deductive thinking, all of which they rightfully expect of school children. Yet their discourse about education is taken seriously, and the result is what one would expect: failure. Given this level of discourse about education, it is no surprise to find the conclusion that “our so-called system of education is far less well planned and executed than our system of highways and of mail delivery” (Shattuck, 1999, p. 34). The actual improvement of education awaits the application by everyone whose discussion is taken seriously of data-based, reality-based thinking skills (Kauffman, 2002).