Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007 | As I listened to Jonathan Kozol tonight, I was shocked at how deep his voice is. Kozol is not a big man, but he can sure fill a large church — both with his voice, and with people. St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego was packed to the gills.

Kozol wants to get rid of No Child Left Behind Act. Fine. Lots of people agree with him, including me.

So we go back to before the NCLB was passed. But wait — before the NCLB was passed, everyone agreed that something had to be done. We were circling the drain. American education was deeply dysfunctional.

Kozol offers nothing to do in place of NCLB, except the refrain heard over and over again in teacher education classes: pay attention to the individual child, inspire him, value him. I heartily agree, but many, if not most, teachers already do this. And many other teachers won’t, or can’t, do this, no matter how many Jonathan Kozols trot around the country. Or they will do this, but won’t or can’t do all the rest of the things a teacher needs to do.

Kozol left me wanting more. He bemoans the fact that most black and Latino kids get inadequate educations, but ignores the fact that ghetto schools have, on average, weaker teachers, when they need above-average teachers to compensate for the students’ impoverished lives.

San Diego County Superintendent Randy Ward knows better. When he was up in Northern California, he came up with a great idea for getting good teachers to go to bad schools. He would allow schools a certain amount of money, which they could use for regular teachers, and for extra teachers and programs. Poor schools could give up the extras, and use the extra money to offer to good teachers, to attract superior educators to their schools.

The idea is brilliant. So why does Randy Ward sit silent in the front row at St. Paul’s?

Get together, Jonathan and Randy. Tell us what we need to hear.

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