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Campaigning Against NCLB

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With the primaries in full swing, the leading presidential candidates are straining to show their differences from one another. But according to the Palm Beach Post, there's at least one thing they all seem to agree on—namely, that the nation's main education law "needs some work." All of the candidates want to change NCLB in some way, though in widely varying degrees. Proposals range from scraping the law altogether (Bill Richardson), to radically overhauling it (John Edwards), to improving funding (Barack Obama), to stressing school improvement rather than universal proficiency goals (Hillary Clinton), to giving some states added fexibility (Mitt Romney), to providing more options for school choice (Rudy Giuliani).

Some observers believe that the candidates are reacting to widespread public discontent with NCLB. "They're accurately responding to what they're hearing from their constituents," says Bob Schaeffer, public education director for Fair-Test: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a group that is critical of standardized testing. "For a candidate to get out campaigning and claim NCLB is working is to risk rejection from potential voters who know otherwise."

5 Comments

Praise to the candidates who are heralding major changes in NCLB. In my opinion,(after forty-some years in all levels of public education,) this is the most wrong headed legislation in the recent history of education. Texas schools have been nearly destroyed by it, considering the years of Bush at state and national levels. Student teachers to Texas from other states refuse to return because of the culture of "teach the test above all." I say, get rid of it and spend money on the first 3 grades of school with class sizes low enough to really teach ALL the kids. (See the Star program in Tennessee for the example.) Where is Thompson on this? Anyone know?

What every state should do is to stop re-inventing the wheel and work with the states that have met AYP and the No Child Left Behind and use what they do to succeed. Good Luck.
Rose

NCLB has some flaws, but hasn't it made us(people in education)more aware of our own deficiencies. Perhaps requiring 100% proficiency is a bit unrealistic, but hasn't that required us to examine our curriculums, instructional strategies and even the placement of staff. Maybe NCLB should consider replacing the language "highly qualified teachers" to "highly effective teachers". If we "policed" our profession more carefully, perhaps our government wouldn't need to step in with such demanding mandates. NCLB isn't the cause of failing schools and students, it's only bringing attention to the schools and teachers who are failing students.

I think it's a hopeful sign that the presidential candidates recognize there is something wrong with NCLB. I am disappointed that they all seem to be afraid to speak more strongly in terms of eliminating it. It may have made us look more closely at curriculum and other matters, but it has also created an atmosphere of fear and animosity in most of our schools when collegial discussions would be much more beneficial. And until proper educational funding is made available at all levels of education so that teachers begin to be accepted and respected as the professionals we are, the creaking wheel will just spin back to politics again. We need to stop trying to cram diluted facts into young heads and accept that education begins with teaching students to think. We are capable of policing ourselves and need the untrained politicians to do their jobs well so that we can do ours--without their interference.

We've attempted professionl collegial discussions at our building, but when you have teachers who have no intention of reflecting upon their instructional approaches, much less making a change, student growth and success are not likely to happen.
I've never understood how paying ineffective teachers a better salary would improve their effectiveness. I'm all in favor of more money to teachers who are making a difference!
If we want to be respected and treated as professionals, we need to act like professional. We need to embrace professional development and work diligently to educate every student. And running off the same lesson plans and worksheets as last year(or 10 years)might not meet the needs of the students. We do need accountabilty in our profession yet I don't think that we've held ourselves to a high level of acountability.
With or without NCLB we need to seriously examine what is happening in classrooms and to students.

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