It's Time to Leave "No Child" Behind
NCLB might have been "well-intenioned" by about half a dozen clueless people. The real ringleaders, the Business Roundtable and their corporatized politicos were ill-intentioned from the get-go.
No Child Left Behind, the massive education program enacted by U.S.
Congress in 2001, is one of those well-intended initiatives that has
turned into a train wreck. It is time to admit that it simply doesn't work.
Onslow County Schools, like many other educational systems, have
struggled with the stringent goals set by NCLB since its inception. In
addition to what, on paper, appears an admirable objective - to improve
the performance of the nation's public schools - NCLB has probably done
less to foster actual learning and more to tie teachers' hands than any
program before it.
Once criticized for "teaching to the tests," educators have now been
saddled with goals that are next to impossible to reach and draconian
sanctions that are supposed to raise the quality of instruction.
Instead, NCLB has sent many excellent teachers scrambling for the door.
At a time when educators' salaries are losing ground along with the rest
of America, why would anyone want to enforce a provision that does
little but drive good teachers from the profession? It makes no sense,
but that is what is happening.
The rural, lower-wealth counties and inner-city schools can barely keep
enough teachers on staff to meet their needs, yet NCLB, which purports
to raise the qualifications of those who teach, discourages the ones
they do have, forcing many fine teachers to rethink their personal
Although NCLB is designed to raise the reading and writing levels of
America's children and provide measurable means of testing those
abilities, what it is really doing is forcing teachers to "teach to the
test" with a whole new desperation. The Adequate Yearly Progress, or
AYP, goals that schools are required to meet are often impossible,
turning the process into a shell game played between school and program
Recently, Onslow County's latest AYP report card revealed Onslow did not
do very well in its latest assessment. Overall, the number of schools
meeting their AYP goals in the county declined.
What does that mean in terms of students actually learning something
useful? How do parents make any sense of these numbers? They are the
forgotten component of the NCLB Act.
In truth, the only provision of NCLB designed to benefit parents and
students allows those at low-performing schools to move to other schools
in the district.
No matter which candidate carries the day in November, it is hoped he
will take seriously the business of teaching, limit Congress' input into
education and, finally, kick the NCLB Act to the curb.
It's an expensive, complicated program that delivers little but red tape
and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, something the American people already have
Jacksonville NC Daily News
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES