Changing No Child Left Behind

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
                                                                                                  Charles Kettering

As we know, change doesn’t mean progress. It is only through sustained, steady, thoughtful change —in the right direction— that we will make progress towards a goal.

For over seven years, No Child Left Behind (NCLB/ESEA – The Elementary and Secondary Education Act) has sat stalled in Congress. After all this time, the American people should not let Congress push through a bill that does not “fix” what is so very wrong with this law. The goal, theory, and methods should all be opened up for close scrutiny.

We need a strong and reasonable federal education law to guide us. We need two “standards” as cornerstones for American education, quality and opportunity.

Changing the Law to Move Us Forward

First, take a look back…..

The law once honored "twin" goals.

The law once honored “twin” goals.

No Child Left Behind set a very different goal – focused on test scores and federal “accountability.” We can’t afford to continue doing what has proven to be detrimental for too many of our students. It’s not right!

We need Congress to end the misguided mandates and focus the law on preserving and strengthening the whole public system as well as going back to focusing on educationally deprived students.

Progress would mean setting policy to move us towards:

  • Wise Investment in Meeting Children’s Needs,
  • Personalized Learning,
  • Meaningful, Systemic Accountability, and
  • Support for Continuous School Improvement.

We have a Guiding Principle (Sec. 101 Amendments): The Congress declares it to be the policy of the United States that a high-quality education for all individuals and a fair and equal opportunity to obtain that education are a societal good, are a moral imperative, and improve the life of every individual, because the quality of our individual lives ultimately depends on the quality of the lives of others.

To have our representatives not read and understand the law is doing business as usual.

To have the people uninformed and unable to weigh in on the law is to bypass the consent of the People. Haven’t we had enough of that?

The public deserves to have the faults in the law made clear in order to judge for ourselves whether or not congress is doing justice to the issue.

Understanding Change

When I first heard that President Obama was taking on “health care reform” by passing major legislation, I winced. Not because it isn’t necessary that the nation address that issue, not because of any particular aspect of the law; I winced because this action revealed the failure of Mr. Obama and his advisers to understand the change process in people. In doing so, they set themselves up for major resistance.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson probably wasn’t required reading in the Ivy League schools but it should be for anyone serious about changing our public education system for the better. The book opens with “The Story Behind the Story” by Kenneth Blanchard which contains this applicable statement, “…living in constant white water with the changes occurring all the time at work or in life can be stressful, unless people have a way of looking at change that helps them understand it.”

So as we once again approach the changes that will come with “education reform,” and they will come, we can hem and haw or sniff and scurry around, or, we can reflect on mistakes and plan for the future. We can share a vision of what change should look like. And we will only make progress when we come to understand that the people “who felt they had less power [were] more afraid of what the change imposed from above might do to them. So they resisted change.”

It’s human nature to react to change by first questioning — how will this affect me?

The cheese will move; the question is who will take control of the direction?