This year marks the tenth anniversary of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB was and is the most aggressive intrusion of federal authority into a core issue that is constitutionally the responsibility of the states. However, NCLB passed with almost unanimous support from all political parties. Why?
Because, according to the supporters, NCLB was going to close the historic achievement gap between low income and minority students and middle class white students. It would make sure all students received a superior educational experience. It was going to hold all teachers, administrators and schools “accountable” for closing this gap. It would also hold schools and teachers accountable for all student achievement. And it promised that this would be completed by 2014.
Instead, after ten years and according to the accumulated empirical evidence, NCLB has actually caused a widening of the achievement gap. It has narrowed the curriculum to mostly test prep practice with a shortsighted focus on discreet reading and math skills. It has forced teachers to stop teaching and “prep” kids for tests and has pushed administrators into the position of data managers instead of instructional leaders. It has forced the closing of some community based schools and has actually ushered in a new form of segregation—poor and minority students are the most likely to have their schools reorganized with a bare bones scripted curriculum or to have their schools closed and then forced to attend a charter school that in all likely hood is no better and maybe worse than their original community based school. Also, for the middle and upper middle class students, their 10 year experience with NCLB has literally left them behind. These students are now 50% more likely to need remedial math and writing courses upon graduation from high school. In other words, NCLB has cost the taxpayers billions of dollars, practically destroyed America’s public education system and caused our children to lose ground academically— an absolute disaster.
Therefore I need to ask the community some questions. Parents. Why do you put up with this? Have you thought about opting out? Teachers. I know you know better. Why do you spend hours prepping for invalid tests? This is not really teaching (or why you became a teacher). Principals. Where is your leadership? Your teachers need you to call the kettle black. Superintendents. Why do you continue to do black flips in a system that, in the end, will dissolve any need for your type of educational expertise? School Boards. Why the silence as your community schools are being dismantled and property values decrease each year in direct correlation to NCLB scores?