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NCLB Outrages

Survey Reveals NCLB Diminishes Time on The Arts and Social Studies

Ohanian Comment: There's a lot of grumbling about what NCLB is doing to social studies and the arts but not much attention. The fact that minorities are the ones left behind here is rarely mentioned. We can be grateful for this brief survey, but where are the front page headlines?

And of course the leeches gather. Accompanying the online article were related advertising links. One offers a $199.95 online course "Proven to improve reading by 1 to 3 grade levels in just 8 weeks among disadvantaged and minority students."

Reform Causes Subject Shift

President Bush's No Child Left Behind education reform is prompting many elementary schools to spend less time on social studies the arts, geography, history and foreign languages and more time on math, reading and science, a survey finds.

While older students are actually getting more class time in several liberal arts subjects, the survey suggests, students in many elementary schools are getting less a possible result of No Child Left Behind, which requires students in grades three through eight to be tested annually in math and reading. It will soon require science tests.

The study surveyed more than 1,000 principals in four states Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico and New York. It was released Monday by the Council for Basic Education, a Washington non-profit organization that advocates for the liberal arts.

About three-fourths of principals overall report that teachers are spending more time on reading, writing and math. More than 40% report more class time in science.

Overall, 29% of elementary school principals reported less class time for social studies, while 21% reported increases; 47% of principals in elementary schools that serve mostly minority students report decreases in social studies class time.

In grades six through 12, 37% of principals say students are spending more time on social studies, with only 7% seeing a decrease.

Only 25% of principals say there's less class time devoted to the arts, but that number jumps to 36% for principals of high-minority schools.

U.S. Education Department spokeswoman Susan Aspey says schools can use several disciplines to improve basic skills.

"If you can't read, then you can't learn," she says. "We have a very real achievement gap in this country, and No Child Left Behind is focused on closing it."

— Greg Toppo
Reform causes subject shift
USA Today


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