No Child Left Behind needs many fixes, now
With six years since No Child Left Behind became law, everyone recognizes it is badly flawed. It is deeply troubling that Congress and the administration have failed to make urgently needed improvements to the law. Allowing reauthorization to languish for another two years would be a disservice to our students and communities.
School boards across the country have shown Congress the many obstacles and unintended consequences created by the law. Its "one size fits all" approach rigidly tied to high-stakes testing is inadequate and does not provide a true picture of performance. This has led to schools being identified as failures even though they may be making significant progress in raising student achievement.
Uncorrected, this misidentification of schools will only grow worse in the years ahead. A flawed system will wrongfully trap more schools in a progression of increasingly severe sanctions, creating a vicious cycle that threatens to undermine public support for our schools.
School boards have recommended improvements such as common-sense flexibility that uses the judgment of local schools and educators - those closest to the issue. We need changes that more fairly and accurately assess student performance. We need the law's requirements to be adequately funded by the federal government.
Students should not be told to "wait it out" until after the 2008 presidential election when Congress can find the time to fix an unsound and underfunded law. Waiting for a new administration and Congress to act would result in the nation's schools suffering under a broken system for another three school years.
No one, least of all our students, will benefit from a continuation of the status quo. It is time for our leaders in Washington to deliver for our children by improving the law.
John Pennycuff is president of the Winton Woods School District Board of Education.
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