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NCLB Outrages

New York Times Editorial Criticizes NCLB

Ohanian Comment: Don't rejoice in an editorial criticizing NCLB--when it fails to notice the fundamental evils of the bill.

The Bush administration's mishandling of education policy is shaping up into a missed opportunity of epic proportions. The No Child Left Behind Act, passed by Congress with blaring trumpets two years ago, was supposed to remake public education by closing the performance gap between rich and poor children. Its most important provision requires that states and districts place a qualified teacher in every classroom by 2006 in exchange for federal dollars. That means ending the indefensible practice of dumping uncertified and unqualified teachers into the poorest and neediest schools.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has failed to have the program fully financed. And its Education Department has neglected the all-important issue of teacher quality while fixating on peripheral matters, like making sure that the public schools permit "constitutionally protected prayer."

A new report by the Education Trust, a Washington foundation devoted to education reform, asserts that the Education Department is not enforcing the teacher-quality provision at all, but has placed the states on an "honor system" that preserves the disastrous status quo. The report, entitled "In Need of Improvement," notes that people who ask the Education Department for information on the teacher-qualification plan are given incomplete information and, in some cases, information that conflicts with the statute passed by Congress.

The president's vow to ensure that poor and minority children who will soon make up a majority of the work force get a decent education was the most noble domestic goal of the Bush administration, and it is being betrayed by halfhearted follow-through on the part of both the White House and Congress. There is still time to turn things around. But right now, a historic opportunity to improve public education seems to be slipping away.

— Editorial
Better Teachers, Better Schools
New York Times


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