Saturday, August 13, 2011

Updating the No Child Left Behind Act

Many liberals, ignoring that the bill was written and pushed by the Lion of the Senate (Kennedy), just hate NCLB. They have all sorts of reasons for hating it, but let's be honest--it took NCLB to shine a light into the darkest corners of public education, and the number of scurrying cockroaches was sobering indeed.

If you truly believe in educating children, you must support some kind of accountability for teachers or schools; self-evaluation just isn't going to cut it. We can argue all day about whether the accountability measures in the law are good or bad, or whether some of them should be modified, but no one can legitimately argue that in the wake of NCLB, the discussion about education hasn't changed for the better. We're no longer arguing over whether or not Johnny can read, we're now discussing how to ensure Johnny can read better today than he could yesterday.

For the liberals who hated the law so much--why didn't "your" Congress change it? It was supposed to be rewritten 4 years ago, back when Democrats ran both houses of Congress. Throw in a Democratic president in 2008, and the law could easily have been changed, gutted, or nullified. That it wasn't touched says something about either the law or the Democrats in Congress; I'll let each reader draw his own conclusion about what the law's continuation means.

President Obama seems at first to have doubled-down on NCLB with his critically-flawed Race to the Top program, but now his administration says it's willing to grant waivers (from NCLB) to states that are willing to make other changes.

According to this op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, the law isn't perfect, but the changes being offered by Secretary Duncan aren't any better:
It's time to stop holding schools hostage to the overly rigid and often counterproductive demands of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which was supposed to have been rewritten four years ago. More and more schools — many of them good or at least improving — are being labeled failures and are facing severe sanctions as the 2014 deadline approaches, when the law requires schools to make 100% of their students proficient in reading and math. A frustrated Obama administration, which has tried in vain to persuade Congress to overhaul the act, is now pursuing a workaround. But the plan advanced by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sacrifices some of the best features of the law in an effort to fix the worst ones. (boldface mine--Darren)
Go to the link to read more. I may not agree with every single word, but overall it's a well-written piece.

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