Lawmakers should admit that No Child Left Behind was an expensive mistake and drop it
Ohanian Comment: This editorial and the letter to editor which follows take two different approaches toward NCLB. I, too, want to dump it. But I very much appreciate Flip Jones' insistance that we have a responsibililty for those who aren’t behaving well in school, etc. Too often Standardistos want to dump the kids who cause trouble, when they are the ones who need us the most.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint should not equivocate on No Child Left Behind.
He was right to vote against it when the program was first created. He is right in his intention to vote against reauthorizing it in its current state.
But he is wrong when he declares that it is a major step forward in education. And he is wrong to indicate that it can be fixed.
DeMint says the program should be changed to give states more freedom in how they manage their obligations under the law.
But the entire function of the law is to take educational authority away from the states and put the federal government in a position of overseeing state education efforts.
No Child Left Behind was a federal takeover of education -- one that is more likely to snowball rather than subside, especially if it is reauthorized.
Through this program, federal officials take control of local and state efforts the way they usually do -- by providing states with more money if they do what Washington wants and withholding money if they don't.
The program has not been a great boost toward accountability and educational reform. In some instances, it disrupted those efforts.
South Carolina had already implemented its accountability system before No Child Left Behind. But the new federal process doesn't meld well with the state standards, making it much more difficult for this state's schools to meet the new national standards.
It's not that the federal government should give states more flexibility. That flexibility already belongs to the states. Federal officials should stop stealing it.
Education is a function of state, not federal, government. Washington should back out of the way and let the states run their educational programs without interference.
Bureaucrats in Washington do not know more about what schools in South Carolina need than do educators in Columbia or local school districts. There is no need for them to dictate educational terms.
If the federal government wants to spend money on education, it should do so through block grants to the states, given without restrictions as to how state schools use the money.
If that is unacceptable to the president and members of Congress, they should refrain from meddling with education.
Letters to the Editor
P.O. Box 1657
Spartanburg, South Carolina 29304
Responding to your editorial: “Dump NCLB”: nothing is wrong with the idea/intent that no child should be left behind. Actually, that type of agreement/covenant is quite important in both our civil and religious history. However, where the rubber meets the road, the way the law is being implemented, many children are being left behind.
When saying “no child left behind”, we should really mean no one, not one single one should be left behind, including kids who aren’t behaving well in school, those who aren’t very bright, those who lack motivation, those who are the wrong color, ethnicity, class, homeless, or just poor.
We need to be certain none are left behind, because we have neglected part of ourselves when we do. This is incumbent on us, obligatory, as a society, as a nation--whatever it takes. There are some who can’t/won’t be saved. They refuse help and advice. Those should be very few: they should be studied to see how they might be reached.
This is a national obligation—one which can be carried out state-by-state, without national supervision, but national in the sense of The National Anthem, The Pledge of Allegiance. It is something that we, as a country, as the people of these United States of America, should commit ourselves to, so that it is more than just a state initiative (or a collection of 50 state initiatives), so that it is important to our whole country, that, as a country, and as a matter of our national honor, we do this.
The Federal Department of Education, rather than being “in charge” of the states, could be useful in an advisory and clearing house/dovetailing capacity, serving as central clearing house for the best in current educational research, and disseminating that information to the states as needed/requested.
Editorial and Flip Jones letter
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES