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.

Efficiency in Education: What Does That Mean?

How many times have you heard a politician publicly push the concept of efficiency in education reform?

But thanks to the ever-growing strength of education business lobbyists and the laws they have promoted, the result has been that our public schools have progressed towards privatization in leaps-and-bounds for the last three decades. Where has that “progress” towards efficiency in education really gotten us?

Grinding forward or to a halt?

Grinding forward or to a halt?

Many have been sold on the idea that you can’t change the system; the entrenchment of the system itself is proof of that, right?

Many believe they can’t improve their own schools and, unfortunately, in some places this is true. But that is exactly where we need our representatives to put forth policy that promotes real school improvement practices. We need laws that protect and serve the learning needs of children. We need a system responsive to their needs. That is where efficiency in education begins.

Why do we keep doing the same things over and over —higher standards, “better” tests, and new accountability systems— and expect different results?

Maybe it is just easier to have someone else take care of our kids. Kids can be tested, sorted, categorized, graded, funneled into programs deemed appropriate, and the outcomes can be efficiently made to fit the predicted needs of corporations. Is that what we call an efficient system? For a free society based on justice and opportunity, is that the type of standardized education system the people are asking for? It is what we are getting.

Efficiency in education means putting our dollars and human resources where they can do the most good for the students. What we are doing instead is working to standardize minds.

The system — since Brown versus Board of Education — stands to promote quality education and provide a way to deliver on the promise of equal opportunity for children. Efficient means “working well.”