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NCLB Outrages

New York Times Editorial Calls the Aims of NCLB Farsighted

Criticizing Bush doesn't make this editorial any less wrong-headed. Funding NCLB would not make it right. The so-called accountability provisions of NCLB are impossible and disastrous. Calling the reforms farsighted is just a smokescreen. Why is it that the New York Times editorialist who comments on NCLB always gets it wrong--when the education columnist and reporters are right on target? Note that the only thing he finds wrong with vouchers is failure to test kids taking their vouchers to private schools.

The No Child Left Behind Act appeared on the national stage as a series of farsighted reforms that would raise standards, place a qualified teacher in every classroom and force schools to end the practice of trapping black and Latino students in substandard schools. But the Bush administration's decision to underfinance the act while soft-pedaling the teacher quality provisions and playing to the far right has emboldened groups like the National Education Association, the teachers' union that never liked an important aspect of the law, namely holding schools accountable by focusing on minority student performance. The N.E.A. is working partly through Democrats in both houses, who have introduced measures that would gut accountability standards, preserving the disastrous status quo.

A destructive sideshow has developed in the Senate, where Republicans have pushed through a bill that would force the District of Columbia, whose budget Congress controls, to create a school voucher program that would send 1,700 students to mainly parochial schools at public expense. The voucher bill originally included safeguards to hold the private and parochial schools to provisions of No Child Left Behind, requiring them to hire qualified teachers and narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor students.

These provisions have been stripped out in conference, however, which means that the private and parochial schools could do a worse job than public schools without being called on it. The Republicans, who are pandering to the religious right, clearly intend to keep this voucher program in force no matter how badly it performs.

Meanwhile, the Democrats can appear to be supporting public education by blasting vouchers while simultaneously backing the effort to weaken the accountability of No Child Left Behind. Thanks mainly to disastrous stewardship from President Bush, education reform in this Congress is shaping up to be a mess and a missed opportunity.

— Editorial
Gutting Education Reform in Congress
New York Times


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