Saturday, September 24, 2011

Revised-No Child Left Behind

     A couple of days ago, President Obama issued revisions to the infamous No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation from the Bush Administration. This was sold to Congress and the public as a way to force schools to teach to rigorous standards, and to pay attention to all subgroups, especially minorities and the learning disabled - both noble goals.

     I have always asserted that the actual goal of NCLB was to force states to opt out of receiving all federal money, especially Title I, so that they would not be labeled as "failing" and risk takeover when scores did not reach the impossible goal of 100% proficiency in math and English for all subgroups by 2014.  This mass opt-out would enable the Republicans to get rid of the department of education and shrink the federal government.  I stand by that assertion today.

     NCLB has forced schools to pay attention to their subgroups, and that is its one positive effect, but it has also fostered a culture of test prep mania that has pushed creativity and critical thinking (neither of which can be measured on a multiple choice test) out of public education.  

     Private, parochial and home-schooled students can be as creative and think as critically as their instructors want them to.  They can explore larger ideas, without worrying that they will not be able to bubble the correct answers on some generic skills test, while public school students are relegated to the role of drones.  

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