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NCLB Outrages

Those Who Can't Teach Get Less

Ohanian Comment: Not surprisingly, Libertarians don't like NCLB. They say it stifles entrepreneurship, diversity, and competition, with an emphasis on competition, of course.

by Staff

"In a visit to Philadelphia [Thursday], U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings touted a $100 million federal fund to reward teachers and principals who raise student achievement in high-need schools, and city schools chief Paul Vallas was eager to apply for a share," reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Spellings said the fund could be used for 'merit pay' plans for teachers and principals who improve performance in the schools. The Education Department next week will solicit funding applications from school districts and other interested parties. This strategy is part of the federal government's attempt to offer incentives, rather than sanctions, to spur change."

Andrew Coulson, Cato's director of the Center for Educational Freedom, comments, "Instead of encouraging Americans' diversity and entrepreneurship in the field of education, Secretary Spellings and President Bush seek to stifle them by imposing federal controls on our classrooms through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The NCLB is an effort to create incentives for excellence and penalties for poor performance, but its results have been far from stellar. The law took effect during the 2002-03 school year. The Department of Education reports that, in eighth grade reading, 'no state had a higher average score in 2005 than in 2003, and 7 states had lower scores. The percentage of students performing at or above Basic increased in 1 state and decreased in 6 states.' Results at the fourth grade were better, but not by much.

"The reason should be obvious to anyone who believes in entrepreneurship, diversity, and competition, as Secretary Spellings claims she does: our education currently lacks every one of them. Trying to cobble a bureaucratic accountability system onto a one-size-fits-all monopoly is a futile endeavor. History has shown that no system of accountability works better than consumer choice and competition between providers. If parents could easily pull their kids out of failing schools and put them in the public or independent school they deemed best, it would give schools only two choices: shape up or shut down. That is real accountability -- something that the NCLB and other attempts at central planning can never deliver."

— staff
Cato Daily Dispatch


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