Dr. Matthew Lynch

Dr. Matthew Lynch
Langston, Oklahoma, USA
December 31
Langston University
As a professor of education, I am, first and foremost, committed to developing outstanding K-12 teachers. That’s because I believe that highly qualified and passionate educators are the best instruments to improve education in K-12 settings. I am the Chairman of the Department of Elementary/Special Education and an Associate Professor of Education at Langston University, and I spent seven years as a K-12 teacher – an experience that gave me an intimate view of the challenges facing genuine education reform. Before assuming my position at Langston, I spent three years as an Assistant Professor of Education and Director of Secondary and Social Studies Programs at Widener University. With that experience behind me, I’ve focused the second stage of my career on researching topics related to education reform, the achievement gap, and teacher education. What I’ve found is that improving teacher education is an essential component in closing the achievement gap. My articles and op eds appear regularly in the Huffington Post, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Education Week, and Education World. I’ve also written numerous peer- reviewed articles, which have appeared in academic journals such as AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, International Journal of Progressive Education, Academic Leadership Journal, and others. In addition, I’ve authored and edited a number of books on school reform and school leadership. Please visit my website at www.drmattlynch.com for more information.


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FEBRUARY 10, 2012 1:39PM

Why I Respectfully Disagree With Obama's NCLB Waivers

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President Obama has agreed to exempt 10 states from the most rigorous tenets of NCLB, in exchange for adopting higher standards and creating more innovative ways of measuring student achievement. The president essentially signed this executive order because Congress has failed to amend the law in spite of widespread agreement that it needs to be revised. Let's face it, NCLB's main goal, getting all students up to par in reading and math by 2014, is not within reach, but it is a noble idea.

When George W. Bush and his bipartisan team originally drafted NCLB, I seriously doubt that they believed all of its provisions were possible. However, they knew that if the dream of educational equality was to ever be achieved in America, something drastic had to be done. The idea of 100% of America's students becoming proficient in the core subjects by 2014 was meant to send a message. For that, I applaud President Bush. He had the guts to draw a line in the sand and stick to it.

Now don't get me wrong, President Obama is my guy, but issuing waivers exempting 10 states from the 2014 reading and math proficiency deadline is a step in the wrong direction. I applaud him for calling on Congress to amend NCLB; however, the waivers serve as band-aids and cannot be considered viable school reform. Many of NCLB's goals were unrealistic, but by shooting for the stars, it dreamt that our children would land somewhere in the clouds. Scaling back accountability at this juncture is tantamount to retreat, and guess who will be the collateral damage? Our children. Regardless of what anyone says, leaving states to their own devices is lowering accountability. In order to appease the federal government, states will put on yearly dog and pony shows in an effort to feign compliance.

Now I agree that NCLB should have been amended a long time ago, but that's Congress's cross to bear. With a major overhaul of its provisions, NCLB could have fostered genuine school reform in the U. S. However, proponents and opponents of the landmark bill were too pigheaded to compromise and in the end, who suffered? America's children. Both political parties know that NCLB has serious flaws, but neither has made a serious play to amend it. NCLB was primarily created to ensure that poor and minority students received a quality education. Most of the public outcry against NCLB was fixated on maintaining programs and paying adults, not on seeking the best way to educate our children and for that we should be ashamed.

Schools in the states that were granted waivers will not face the sanctions outlined in NCLB, but they will be subject to a range of interventions, which will be determined by the state itself. Essentially, leaving the states the latitude to deal with failing schools as they see fit. But what about the least among us? What about poor and minority students attending schools that may treat them like collateral damage and focus on "students who can learn?"

I do realize that the president is attempting to operate proactively in areas where congress has failed to act, but there has to be a better way. This move is supposed to give states "flexibility" and that's exactly what it does. It gives them the flexibility to do as they please; leaving poor and minority children behind. In the end, me and the president will have to agree to disagree. However, in spite of my reservations about his latest decision, I will be casting by ballot for him on November 6, 2012. Team Obama!

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It's an election year. My gut tells me that Mr. President had to make some hard sacrifices to appease the crowd. He may have lost a battle, but not the war. ... He has to look like he's cutting "entitlement" programs and cutting costs so he has something to show as we head into the election. Don't you think? Thoughts?
It's one thing to appease your base, but don't do it at the expense of America's children. As far as entitlement programs, that's a double edge sword. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
Yeah this is so confounding I wonder what it is all about and what is going to happen?
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What's the point of meeting standards if they are laughably low? To be proficient, a 4th grader in Massachusetts has to read at a level than Colorado students don't have to reach until 6th grade. To me, raising the low standards is the first priority.

As a side point, if you are going to post your picture, you should improve the lighting, so we can actually see your face.
Intersting post. Given federalism, there was also a lot or resistance to the imposition of centralized controls as to bureaucratizing schools even more, and, 'teaching to the test.' I do think you're right that expectations matter a lot more than are given credit for, if, and against the most common mentality in NCLB applications from what I have seen, its not a purely quanitative exercise. That domination of education policy by "quants" triggered a lot of the backlash, "teaching to the test" especially, if I'm not a big proponent of touchy feely methods, but the old school of making the material demanding, if as interesting as the subject matter allows. "Bubble tests" have their place, as does preventing "reinventing the wheel" as to exam reservoirs for all the States, as in K-12, a lot of things don't change as much as much as people want to let onto it seems to me. Absolute command of the English language, that's not that different now than it was 100 years ago, beyond stylistic conventions. Trig.... same for hundreds of years. Even basic historical knowledge, does that really change that much, or is it not rather often packaging old wine in new bottles?
NCLB was always flawed and should be repealed. Watched the hearings on amending NCLB and the legislators were clueless..their staff members were constantly handing them documents to "help" them make their points. Further, when the talk of merit pay increases for teachers whose students scored higher on the test began...all was lost. Taught in two different states and never met a teacher who supported NCLB.
Thank you so very much for saying what needs to be said.
Deborah - I would call them political decisions not hard sacrifices. Well it is a hard sacrifice for those kids but not for Obama. His kids education are not affected.
I find it sad as a society, if you say you like anything from Bush II you have to have a disclaimer