As much as have concerns about the NCLB, I do give credit to this law for unveiling the performance of our subgroups, which is data that was once ignored in our profession. The achievement gap is incredibly difficult to solve, but as long as there are schools that have managed to close or even eliminate the gap (such as the Ralph J. Bunche School in Compton) then we must continue to believe that this is possible and to strive to make it happen.
The other positive of NCLB is also, ironically, a weakness in the law. NCLB does not reward improvement. A school can make great improvement but still fall into (or stay) in Program Improvement. How can I say that this obvious weakness is also a strength? In my opinion the strength is the fact that “improvement”, in and of itself, it not enough. Proficiency rates matter, and while we should rightfully celebrate improvement, we cannot ignore the level of proficiency at any given school.
All boldface is mine. Those points clearly identify why I support NCLB.
Let's agree that improvement is important, and so is proficiency. We can debate the relative value of each with good will and still educate children very well.
However, is it reasonable to believe that only the federal government can ensure the educational welfare of children, that only the feds truly care about every child's education, or that if that is not quite the case, that only the feds can force those who won't get with the program to do what is right?
Federal bureaucracies know sound bites, vast sums of other people's money, political power and its raw exercise over the lives of the unenlightened, which is commonly anyone who is not a federal bureaucrat or politician. Let the local schools do their work and let the citizens that fund them and live near them do theirs. That they may, upon occasion and in some places, fall down on their civic responsibilities is hardly an argument for overarching federal intervention and punitive nannyism in the form of NCLB or anything resembling it.
By the way, great posts of late Darren!
1. Apparently the local governments haven't been doing this, based on tests of student performance.
2. The local governments are getting such poor results while sucking from the federal teat, so Sam wants a little accountability.
3. Thanks for the compliment!
NCLB's a lousy way to ensure educational accountability since it's a fiat measure, same as fiat currency is lousy money and circulates because the coercive power of government ensures its use. Trouble is, it's the only game in town the state level accountability schemes having been uniformly emasculated.
The reason for the passage of NCLB though was the widespread misuse of Title I funding.
Just a quick FYI on NCLB and the teachers unions.
"Leaders of the California Teachers Association brought a giant postcard signed by nearly 1,000 teachers to San Francisco today to urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to withdraw her support of a proposed reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act..."
Someone wrote - "is it reasonable to believe that only the federal government can ensure the educational welfare of children, that only the feds truly care about every child's education, or that if that is not quite the case, that only the feds can force those who won't get with the program to do what is right?"
Are these not the federal government's schools that have been leaving children behind? Are these not the federal government's schools who owe parents and taxpayers, indeed, all stakeholders a guarantee of positive results and gains towards proficiency levels among ALL client subgroups, i.e., students? Are these not the federal government's schools who were mass producing illiterate high school grads and/or goo gobs of drop outs during the last two decades???
The answer is a resounding Heck Yes, and it would be extremely unreasonable to think otherwise. The law ensures results...finally. The law ensures aggregate results, not averages...finally. The law ensures that we put the kids first, and that teachers are qualified to prepare them for a new global and technological economy.
The season of teacher/district accountability is here to stay, or else, the federal government needs to get out of the education business...completely! Maybe that's the ultimate solution.
Meanwhile, It took a federal mandate by a passionate President to get us to the point where we even noticed that MOST children were being left behind (not just minorities...boys, too).
Just walk into any teachers lounge and hear the idle and disgraceful chattering of uncaring educators who want more for themselves than they do for the K-12 clients they are hired to serve.
For many, a federal government teaching position only serves to pay for the private educations of their own children, and the mortgages for homes they live in located many miles away from the school sites and communities they teach in.
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