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NCLB Outrages

Public schools target of destructive No Child act

Social engineering is under way and being disguised as education reform.

By Bill Archer

Many are not aware of the hidden activities, corporate connections and political motives that permeate the otherwise noble-sounding intent of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Though the goal of closing the academic performance gap that exists between children living in poverty and those living in better conditions is a great idea, the way the act goes about achieving it demonstrates its authors' real intentions are dramatically different. The act intentionally makes public education the sole vehicle responsible for correcting the gap that exists between the different socio-racial-economic groups. While research already shows that poverty creates low academic performance in many individuals because of its deprivations, it does not show that public education can correct that impoverished situation from which the low performing students come. Only programs that are directed at eradicating poverty can do that.

But the advocates and creators of No Child Left Behind persist in confusing the issue by continuing to blame public schools for the gap in performance that they didn't produce but for which they are somehow magically to close. The root causes of the gap in performance go untreated and schools that "fail" to close the gap are punished under NCLB sanctions as if they are the cause of the failure.

In reality, public schools traditionally exist to teach children who are there to learn. But the important differences in the children's readiness to learn affects the outcome. If all things were equal, then all children could be on the same level of performance, at the same time, as the NCLB guilefully pretends is possible. But common sense knows differently.

Rather than direct money and energy to eradicate the poverty that creates the learning gap, the act blames public education as if it were the cause and punishes it with sanctions that go from dismantling schools to withholding federal money that is then redirected to private schools, voucher programs and schools of choice whose clients are better suited to meet its arbitrary requirements. Those schools have a preponderance of students who are ready to learn whatever subjects the "high stakes tests" determine are the ones that will be evaluated. All the rest of the subjects or educational possibilities for learning are of no use in the NCLB formula since they have no effect on these schools' grades because most of those schools are not required to be accountable for "high stakes" testing or the NCLB's Annual Yearly Performance standards.

Theoretically, a public school that couldn't show improvement in its "A" grade because there isn't a grade higher than "A" would fail under the rules of the NCLB. There are already examples of this situation in existence.

Could it be that an actual intended consequence of the NCLB is the ultimate failure of the public schools as we now know them? Could it be the public schools that have a wide open vista for academic exploration are a threat to a group of people who want the minds of students to be confined to a more narrow viewpoint that conforms to its goals in this new global economy?

And aren't "connected" publishing companies already producing, at great public expense, the educational materials that conform to each state's high stakes evaluation programs that will then be evaluated by the NCLB?

Social engineering is under way and being disguised as education reform. An unwary public is quietly being transformed by the wolfish NCLB draped in sheep's clothing. Informed Americans who care about preserving the traditional values and vast potentials of public education will ask that the NCLB be repaired or not re-authorized.

Archer, a public school counselor, lives in Daytona Beach.

— Bill Archer
Daytona Beach News Journal


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