Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bush's Supreme Court Says OK to Pay Women Less

All an employer has to do to get away with paying women less for the same work done by men is keep it secret for 180 days! That's the effect of the recent Supreme Court decision, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. According to the May 29 NYT, Lilly Ledbetter's salary was initially the same as the men doing the same work. Over time, she received smaller raises than the men and by the time she realized the disparity and sued, her salary fell short by 40%. However, she was past the 180 day deadline (from the time her pay was set) in Title VII for filing a complaint.

A Federal District Court and the EEOC supported Ledbetter's claim of pay discrimination, but the Bush Administration disavowed the EEOC's position and filed a brief on the side of the employer, saying Ledbetter could not bring suit because she had past the 180 day deadline. Where have we heard this before? When has a Bush ever supported a victim of discrimination or taken a stand against discrimination in general? In this case, the two 43 appointees - Roberts and Alito, and Thomas - the 41 appointee, joined Scalia and Kennedy - both Reagan appointees, for the 5 to 4 majority. Isn't there a pattern here? The last three Republican presidents created this majority!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NCLB: A Huge Mistake

NCLB (No Child Left Behind) was passed to close the achievement gap. That goal is laudable and long overdue. However, the high-stakes testing dictated by NCLB as the way to tackle the problem is a disaster. It stifles the imagination and inspiration of teachers, narrows the curriculum, drains sparse resources of public schools, and crushes the spirits of the very students it is intended to help.

Perhaps the biggest problem with NCLB is that it ignores the growing level of poverty in this country that is the underlying cause of the achievement gap. Testing doesn't provide jobs, living wages, health insurance and other basics that are the foundations of strong families and of hope. We can't test hungry or hurting kids into achievement anymore than we can bomb totalitarian societies into democracy.

I recommend 4 books that shed light on the issues surrounding the high stakes testing approach of NCLB and its failure to address the pervasive poverty that affects the achievement of too many of our children in too many of our public schools. David Berliner's books, The Manufactured Crisis and Collateral Damage reveal the costs of our over-reliance on and over-interpretation of testing. The costs are far greater that financial. Jonathan Kozol's books Savage Inequalities and The Shame of the Nation will take you inside these impoverished neighborhood schools and leave you wondering, "How can this be in America?" How can mandated, costly, high-stakes testing do anything but exacerbate these kinds of problems?