Editorialists Want California to Embrace NCLB
Ohanian Comment: Raise that bar, California. Target those students.
California was ahead of other states in the 1990s, providing extra resources to the schools that struggled the most.
But now, California needs to embrace the next stage embodied in the No Child Left Behind law - identifying and targeting schools doing well overall, but where whole groups of students are being left behind.
Unfortunately, California State Superintendent Jack O'Connell wants to change the No Child Left Behind law to allow schools to show "net improvement," rather than meet specific reading and math proficiency targets for all kids.
The problem with his model is simple: If a school shows overall improvement but achievement gaps get wider for some groups of children, those kids never have to reach reading and math proficiency within their 12 years of schooling. That shortchanges those kids. It rips the heart out of the law.
Rep. George Miller of Martinez, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Work Force and co-author of the law, believes O'Connell's proposal relegates too many students to "sort of always arriving, but they never get there."
Nine local superintendents in California - Henry Escobar, Richard Rodriguez, Samuel Johnson, Edward Lee Vargas, Larry Aceves, Santiago Wood, Rudy Castruita, Edwin Diaz and Darline Robles - are leading an effort to reject a return to the "days where the underachievement of entire groups of children is hidden underneath school averages." They strongly oppose efforts to backtrack on No Child Left Behind requirements.
Miller and the superintendents are right.
California has more of the populations traditionally left behind than other states do. Of 6.2 million K-12 students, two-thirds are Hispanic, Asian or black. More than half come from disadvantaged backgrounds - their families are lower income and/or their parents didn't receive a high school diploma. Nearly a quarter are English learners, mostly Spanish speaking.
California can't afford to give up on these kids. They are California's future.
Rather than fight the yearly targets in No Child Left Behind, California would be better off embracing them and putting resources in place to achieve them. In other words, continue to aim high.
Real education solutions
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