January 28, 2005

Easier to Slow the Front than Vivificate the Back

Justin Katz

Leave it to Rhode Island school administrators to prove that our educational system is run by people for whom "no child left behind" translates into action as "no child gets ahead":

The Lincoln district has decided to eliminate this year's spelling bee -- a competition involving pupils in grades 4 through 8, with each school district winner advancing to the state competition and a chance to proceed to the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C. ...

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Newman said the decision to scuttle the event was reached shortly after the January 2004 bee in a unanimous decision by herself and the district's elementary school principals.

The administrators decided to eliminate the spelling bee, because they feel it runs afoul of the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. ...

The administrators agreed, Newman said, that a spelling bee doesn’t meet the criteria of all children reaching high standards -- because there can only be one winner, leaving all other students behind. ...

"There was no debate at all. It was one of the easiest decisions," the assistant superintendent said because "there was no question among the administrators" that a spelling bee was "contrary to the expectations" of No Child Left Behind.

Note, particularly, that this decision now closes the children's route to state and national competitions. That doing so was "one of the easiest decisions" indicates that perhaps the district ought to leave the superintendent and principals behind.

(via the Corner)