Matthews' instinctive reaction to the "bubble kids" phenomenon is fairly common: "A good principal...would put an end to such nonsense." This response certainly carries genuine emotional weight. Still, it puzzles me that so many DC policy wonks invoke it in defense of No Child Left Behind in its current form.
What, after all, is the point of a policy that creates poor incentives and encourages perverse behavior? If we can rely on everyone to do the right thing regardless of consequences, then we hardly need accountability systems in the first place
Also, am I the only one creeped out by Mathews's tendency to say things like this:
That Salcido and her team hired Fine, one of the best writers I have seen among full-time teachers, indicates their good judgment. (emphasis added)
Aside from being condescending, there are over six million teachers in the US. To understand "teachers" is to appreciate the vast unknowableness of the profession.
Also, the column he's praising seems to miss the point of its own situation. The problem isn't "bubble kids," and NCLB -- it is that DC has a terrible special education system, and it isn't getting any better under Rhee. If the teacher writing the column has only worked in DC, she wouldn't have enough perspective to see that.