"No Child" in the Crosshairs
Ohanian Comment:This editorial subhead bleats,
CONGRESS SHOULD BE TAKING ABOUT STRENGTHENING, NOT ABANDONING, THE FEDERAL SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY LAW
The corporatized Standardistos are running scared.
Editorialists use a leaky basement metaphor in connection with NCLB. I'd expand this, reminding people that Noah gathered creatures onto an ark to save them from the flood. Our schoolchildren need rescue from NCLB oppression.
Now is the time for resistance. Congressional representatives are back in their home district. Make sure they understand how damaging NCLB is. You can still order 100 booklets What Every Parent, Teacher, and Community Member Needs to Know About No Child Left Behind. You can download it at:
The booklet has been translated into Spanish. We are looking for an angel to finance the printing and distribution.
No one in his right mind would demolish his home because it had a leaky
basement or it needed new carpeting. But that's the approach being
advocated by those who find fault with the No Child Left Behind Act. The
federal law is not perfect, but its architecture of educational
accountability, transparency and equality is sound. With the law up for
reauthorization this year, Congress should be debating how -- not
whether -- to continue this landmark education initiative.
The law faces a perilous political situation far different from the
climate in the fall of 2001. President Bush, then popular and riding a
wave of patriotism that grew out of Sept. 11, was able to quell
traditional Republican concerns about federal involvement in education
and form a partnership with Democrats. The political support that the
president enjoyed is gone. And now, as the Post's Amit R. Paley
reported, mounting criticism from both the political right and left have
supporters of the law worried about its prospects for renewal.
The latest attack on the law comes from a surprising quarter: former top
Bush aides who were instrumental in its implementation, such as Eugene
W. Hickok, deputy education secretary during the president's first term.
He and a growing number of Republican lawmakers would allow states to
opt out of the federal requirements.
No one can doubt Mr. Hickok's commitment to bettering schools. Nor can
some of his arguments about the unintended consequences of No Child Left
Behind be denied. For example, the law's requirement that states test
students annually and show progress toward proficiency has caused some
states to lower standards and water down assessments. It's difficult,
though, to see how giving states even more flexibility will solve this
problem. Wasn't the trouble caused by letting states decide what's good
We've been unequivocal in our support of standards that have rigor and
meaning. It's encouraging that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a
proponent of No Child Left Behind who chairs the education committee,
has identified this as one of his priorities. Some promising ideas come
from the nonprofit advocacy group Education Trust. One is to encourage
states to raise their standards to a "college-and-career-ready level"
with the trade-off of getting more time to reach more realistic goals of
proficiency. The law's original goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014,
while laudatory, may be unrealistic.
Other areas cry out for improvement. Schools that are failing need help
in the form of guidance and resources, rather than just sanctions, if
they are to improve. Students most in need of quality teachers still
aren't getting them. Provisions to get extra help for struggling
students, such as private tutors, are not being applied the way they should.
Consider the landscape before No Child Left Behind. No one was really
focused on results, failure had no consequences, few people were talking
about the achievement gap and parents had little choice if their child's
schooling wasn't doing the job. A recent report by outside experts
showed students nationwide doing better on math and reading tests, as
well as a narrowing of the achievement gap. To let states opt out of
doing the hard, necessary work of raising standards is to turn back the
clock on education reform.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES