Monday, January 24, 2005

Candid Thoughts on "No Child Left Behind"

Rarely will I keep an opinion to myself when I have one, and when it comes to the "No Child Left Behind" Act, my experience gives me plenty of opportunity to form a few opinions.
I began writing this post originally as a response to a request by a reader (thank you Ali) to share my thinking about the NCLB legislation. It was going to stay in the "comments" section, but as I wrote, my frustrations got the better of me, and I decided to publish my thoughts here instead.

It is insidious

My own gut-reaction to NCLB is that it is, indeed, a stealth piece of Republican legislation which will result in the destruction of the public school systems in large urban areas, and render the powerful (mostly Democratic) teacher's unions in those regions ineffective.
One aspect of No Child Left Behind mandates that any school which cannot meet NCLB standards loses some federal funding and may be reconstituted or taken over by a charter school or a private for-profit education company.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the schools in Cleveland, our nation's poorest city, that fail to measure up to NCLB. Several have been classified as failing schools, and the probationary period is almost up. I shall be most curious as to how NCLB will move to rescue the kids in these schools.

Who will be tapped to play the hero?
My money is on Republican businessman David Brennan's White Hat Management company.

I wonder how many Cleveland Municipal Schools will become for-profit Hope Academies.


Doug Nagy said...

I had the opportunity last March to go to a youth program in Washington D.C. Among many distinguished speakers including President Bush, we heard from Secretary of Education Rod Paige. We, a group of high school students (2 from each state), confronted him about NCLB.

I personally asked him about the logic of a school voucher program like that in Cleveland where the voucher doesn't cover the entire cost of private education, leaving the poorest of the poor behind.

He responded by saying we shouldn't see this large gap between public and private education. He seemed to have no problem with public dollars going to private schools. He seemed to support privatizing schools because it would force public schools to compete. The logic of all this escapes me.

sage- Bflo and WNY said...

Thank you. Very insightful. I have a feeling that many educators DO NOT appreciate NLCB, yet when peforming research on the net..there are not any articles/sites with the "TRUTH"!

- Ali
St. Eds '87.

tadvent said...

I must politefully disagree with you on NCLB. I am in favor of it. Something had to be done to change the way public schools are being run. NCLB may not be a perfect solution but it is a great start.
The main main points I look at are accountability of teachers and students along with having to meet minimum standards. For too long, in my opinion, kids have been let to slide by. They come from a bad family, they have no adult role models, they have no chance. I feel those children need to be challanged.
My tax dollars to the schools are not for babysitters they are for results. If the results aren't there, people lose their jobs. That is how America works.

I'm not just cold hearted, there has to be changes in the inner city, Schools are an obvious place to help with the socio-economic factors of a community. It's obvious the many churches aren't doing much. However, the schools are publicly funded and the public is demanding results.

As for breaking the union, I'm not for that, I think teachers need to focus on teaching and not having to worry about all the factors of employment un-unionized labor has to worry about. However, I think teacher need to get into the real world with their contracts. NO ONE in the private sector has fully funded health care. NO ONE in the private sector gets the multiple other benefits teachers get in the way of time off, pension plans, job security, as well as admiration from their students as well as parents. When is the last time a child (other than their own) admired a computer programmer or a chef ..etc..

NCLB is not the end all, be all for saving the schools. It is a great start though. I think we need to expect more from our inner city schools and hopefully they will respond. If not, they need to be totally reorganized. There is an old saying in sports, you can't fire all the players; so you get rid of the coach.

marybeth said...

Thank you Tim for you thought-filled comments. I wish to respond to some of your assumptions that I, in turn, disagree with. Because there may be more than a few others who share your point of view, I will use your comments as the prompt for my next post. I truly enjoy a good discussion. Thank you again.

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