No Child Left Behind

NCLB Issues

"We might want to be doing some of the things that higher-achieving countries have been doing over the past twenty years as they have left us further and further bhind educationally. As an indicator of the growing distance, the United States ranks twenty-eighth of forty countries in mathematics, right above Latvia, and graduates only about 75 percent of students, instead of the more than 95 percent now common elsewhere. Most high-achieving coutries not only provide high-quality universal pre-school and healthcare for children; they also fund their schools centrally, and equally, with additional funds going to the neediest schools. Furthermore, they support a better-prepared teaching force--funding competitive salaries and high-quality teacher education, mentoring and ongoing professional development for all teachers. NCLB's answer to the problem of preparing teachers for the increasingly challenging job they face has been to call for alternative routes that often reduce training for the teachers of the poor.

"Finally, high-achieving nations focus their curriculums on critical thinking and problem solving, using exams that require students to conduct research and scientific investigations, solve complex real-world problems and defend their ideas orally and in writing. These assessments are not used to rank or punish schools, or to deny promotion or diplomas to students... They are used to evaluate curriculum and guide investments in learning--in short, to help schools improve. Finally, by asking students to show what they know through real-world applications of knowledge, these other nations' assessment systems encourage serious intellectual activities that are being driven out of many US schools by the tests promoted by NCLB...

"Connecticut, which assesses students with open-ended tasks like designing, conducting and analyzing a science experiment (and not coincidenally ranks first in the nation in academic performance), sued the federal government for the funds needed to maintain its assessments on an "every child, every year" basis. The Education Secretary suggested the state drop these tasks for multiple-choice tests. Thus the administration of the law is driving the US curriculum in the opposite direction from what a twenty-first-century economy requires" (Linda Darling-Hammond. "Evaluating No Child Left Behind." The Nation, May 21, 2007: 11-21).

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND - The Football Version

1. All teams must make the state playoffs and all MUST win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.

If after two years they have not won the championship, their footballs and equipment will be taken away UNTIL they do win the championship.

2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. NO exceptions will be made for lack of interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL!

3. Talented players will be asked to workout on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don't like football.

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th game.

It will create a New Age of Sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimum goals. If no child gets ahead, then no child gets left behind. If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad football players. (from an email, possibly credited to Barbara J. Duffy, Ed. D., Librarian, Jordan High School, Jordan Academy, 6500 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, CA 90805).

"...slippery slope initiatives: Take the first step and you're on your way off the cliff... [For example] why an education bill about school testing? Once the testing frame applies not just to students but also to schools, then schools can, metaphorically, fail--and be punished for failing by having their allowance cut. Less funding in turn makes it harder for the schools to improve, which leads to a cycle of failure and ultimately elimination for many public schools. What replaces the public school system is a voucher system to support private schools. The wealthy would have good schools--paid for in part by what used to be tax payments for public schools. The poor would not have the money for good schools. We would wind up with a two-tier school system, a good one for the "deserving rich" and a bad one for the "undeserving poor."" (32)...

"Vouchers and school testing are not ultimately about vouchers and school testing; they are about conservative control of the content of education" (George Lakoff. Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: 109).

"...the No Child Left Behind legislation package: How could Texas, a state historically at the bottom of the statistical heap in teacher salaries, per capita spending on students, class size, number of qualified and certified teachers, and funding equity have been sold to the Congress as a model on which to base national reform? Well, go figure.

"McNeil reveals [in Leaving Children Behind: How "Texas-style" Accountability Fails Latino Youth, by Angela Valenzuela (ed.), State University of New York Press] that the Texas test numbers were bogus. Teachers deprived students of genuine teaching to make the time for daily drills to prepare them for a test that would determine their advancement. Predictably the test scores increased. Yet on other standardized tests measuring broader academic achievement and thinking skills, for which students were not regularly coached, the scores of Texas' kids tanked...

"This corporate model of rewards and punishment for managers--principals offered $10,000 for an increase in campus-wide scores and $25,000 and up for superintendents for district-wide increases, coupled with dismissal for principals and teachers at failing schools--produced predictable results, Cheating and lying.

"The cheating involved devoting many days to teaching the test, downloading tests from previous years, and looking the other way as students likely to lower average scores "disappeared"" (Lou Dubose. "The Din of Inequity." The Texas Observer, Oct. 7, 2005: 26-28).

Colby Glass, MLIS