Come on Mr. President…do you think a new initiative will disguise the atrocious failure of No Child Left Behind? Despite his (false) claims that Math and Reading scores are higher than ever, George W. Bush continues to search frantically for any potential success story in the realm of education during his administration. It’s time to face the facts, however, and those include:
1. The federal government has never made sufficient funds available to pay for its NCLB mandates in education leaving local districts and state bodies scrambling to pay the bill, often resulting in the elimination of art, music, PE, and other “extra” classes, field trips for children, classroom materials that could be used for hands-on learning experiences, and even in some cases eliminating faculty or support positions. Leaving local schools and states standing with the enormous bill for NCLB mandates is both unethical and unconstitutional.
2. Curricula (ESPECIALLY in schools serving many working-class and poor students and students of color) has been narrowed so much that students no longer have the option of receiving a well-rounded, rich education that can prepare them for being engaged citizens in a democracy. Even in “Math” and “Reading” students are merely being taught to take tests.
3. The testing frenzy is so out of control that even kindergarteners can be found in classrooms sitting at their seats with paper and pencil. For many kindergarten classrooms, long gone are “luxuries” such as recess, rest time, story time, dramatic play, and hands-on exploration.
4. Students are being pushed out of school so they will not bring a school’s overall score “down.”
5. Teachers are pushing every boundary possible, and even some outright “cheating” on tests to avoid the devastating results if a struggling school does not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
6. Teachers are told to “teach the ones who you think can pass” and essentially forget the others. Geesh…that sounds a lot like leaving children behind.
7. Even affluent suburban schools are finding it difficult to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) because their scores tend to be high to begin with and to consistently increase those scores every single year is nearly impossible. Thus, the testing frenzy and detrimental effects infiltrate all schools with teachers complaining, “everything is about the test!”
Don’t believe me? There are hundreds of publications about the detrimental effects NCLB has had on children, families, schools, teachers, administrators, budgets, test scores, and education. Here’s one of the latest.
No Child Left Behind is up for Reauthorization this spring. Let’s not continue to allow this Act that is designed for inevitable self-implosion to ruin educational opportunities for all children – and most of all for the children who have been underserved by the system for so many generations.
And Pell Grants for Kids is just another way to rape public schools of funding and give public funds to the private and faith-based sector. Yet another attempt to erode public education for all. Can we not see the writing on the wall?