The law has come under attack for several reasons:
- Encourages Teachers to “Teach to the Test.” Critics say that the law has demoralized teachers and forced them to “teach to the test” rather than making instructional decisions based on the best interests of students.
- Encourages States to Dumb Down Standards. Because the standardized tests which are so important to NCLB are based on state standards, the law created what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls a “perverse incentive” for states to make their standards as low as possible, ensuring that a maximum number of students achieve passing scores.
- “Utopian” Goals. The Obama administration, according to the New York Times, has called NCLB’s goal that 100% of public school students will achieve proficiency in reading and math “utopian.”
This video looks at some of the issues with No Child Left Behind.
However, Business Week notes that overall, Obama’s proposed education plan has experienced more success in receiving bipartisan support than have his proposals concerning health care or the economy.
Speaking to the Christian Science Monitor, Michael Petrilli, a vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute who served in the Education Department during George W. Bush’s first term, said that President Obama’s proposed changes will turn more control back to districts and states, which is usually what Republicans want.
Some Democrats Concerned about Losing Focus on Achievement Gap
Some Democrats are concerned that the new incarnation of No Child Left Behind will fail to address the achievement gap that exists between African-American and Hispanic students and their Caucasian counterparts. The current version of NCLB was designed to address the achievement gap, but the new version places less emphasis on the achievement gap and more emphasis on preparing every American student for either college or a career.
Speaking to the New York Times, Christopher Edley Jr., dean of Boalt Law School at University of California, Berkeley, and a former official in the Clinton administration said, “I worry about retreating from the notion of quality education as a civil right.”
These are certainly interesting times for public education, and while we may be leaving NCLB behind, we will be welcoming new policies that will hopefully improve our children’s education.
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