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NCLB Outrages

Thanks to No Child, schools can't hide

Ohanian Comment: I think criticism of NCLB is very well placed, but, that said, the editorialists do have a point. Schools were too content to let things drift. But NCLB is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Editorialists don't have a clue how destructive it is--or do they?

Our position is: Criticism of the No Child Left Behind Act is misplaced.

Even by the standards of school reform, few elements have been as roundly criticized as the four-year-old No Child Left Behind Act.

The National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, complains that No Child's requirements for improving student achievement add more "punishments rather than assistance."

State and local officials call it an unfunded federal mandate; nine school districts hooked up with the NEA last month to sue the federal government for more funding. No Child's demand for "adequate yearly progress" does encourage a one-size-fits-all approach. Yet the unwillingness of state and local governments to improve schools is why No Child was enacted in the first place.

As Ross Wiener of The Education Trust points out, the lack of accountability measures in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 had allowed state and local officials to hide the woeful performance of schools and ultimately neglect poor and minority students. Parents are now empowered, thanks to No Child's lists of underperforming schools, but states still have too much leeway in ratcheting down achievement standards. Indiana, for example, can claim 95 percent of teachers in poor-performing schools are "highly qualified," even though poor test scores show otherwise.

Yet No Child has been the much-needed step in bringing greater attention to the problems that plague public schools. For that, it should be strengthened.

— Editorial
Indianapolis Star


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