No Child Left Behind: What's needed

  • Article by: Chicago Tribune Editorial
  • Updated: July 31, 2013 - 7:23 PM

Even if you don’t follow education policy, you know these four words: No Child Left Behind. That’s the landmark 2002 law pushed by President George W. Bush to bring all students up to federal reading and math standards by 2014.

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briechersJul. 31, 13 8:36 PM

Ironically, we cannot seem to learn from our mistakes when it comes to managing the education of our children from 1,100 miles away. Waiver upon waiver demonstrates that even the people who advocate for centralized power know that what they promote is not universally applicable. Time and money are wasted getting these waivers from the arrogant, yet incompetent Washington D.C. crowd. We should insist that the federal government stop blackmailing our education professionals and return our money in the form of a block grant without any strings. If our local leaders are failing, we can figure that out without any “help” from ideologue representatives from New York to California. Getting consensus on a locally developed strategy is hard enough without pretending to agree with the department of education just to get our money back. Good Grief.

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pumiceJul. 31, 13 9:45 PM

From the editorial: "[I]t has been clear for years that almost every school district in the country would fail to meet those ambitious federal goals." The editors named the goals: "[S]chools nationally would be held accountable for children’s academic progress.... [A]ttention [would be turned to students’ progress.... “[T]he soft bigotry of low expectations [would end."] NCLB's heart was in the right place, but its punitive (and unfunded) testing regime was a disaster.

Every year more and more schools across the nation were labeled "Failure". Teachers became the scapegoat of choice. Movement heroes such as Michelle Rhee got incredible results--teachers deemed ineffective could be fired at will, but look at the results! Student progress was incredible. (Literally incredible--there were a lot of erasures on those high-stakes tests.)

Worst of all--in my opinion--the soft bigotry of low expectations didn't end. In order to meet the patently impossible goal of having every child achieving at grade level, many states lowered their standards. There's no time for critical thinking skills; "back to the basics" is no more effective than it was before the pendulum swung; and "scripted teaching" is stultifying for most children and for teachers as well.

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briechersJul. 31, 1310:06 PM

Pumice...so do you agree that education can and should be responsibility of the state or is there something about leaving it to the state that just can't be tolerated?

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davehougJul. 31, 1310:14 PM

Here is the "New Deal". We taxpayers will help you with all sorts of programs. YOU will prepare yourself and your children to succeed. Until diploma or GED 1/2 normal government payments of all kinds. Every time a child misses school; cuts for that child. Miss half the school days, miss half the payments for that child. Disabled by physical or mental capacity = excused. After diploma or GED, report to city assigned work in parks, trails, libraries...... comments respectfully read at davehoug@comcast.net

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pumiceJul. 31, 1310:14 PM

Re: "Time and money are wasted getting these waivers from the arrogant, yet incompetent Washington D.C. crowd." The first thing Congress should do is fund the mandates it imposes. IDEA was never funded as promised, and NCLB was underfunded as well. Moreover, if Congress would do its work, NCLB would be re-upped in modified form or allowed to sunset if it's outlived its usefulness. In either case, waivers would not be necessary.

Finally, ere's an interesting analysis of the current situation from dissentmagazine.org: "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation … wants nothing less than to overhaul higher education, changing how it is delivered, financed, and regulated … Gates’s rise occurs as an unusual consensus has formed among the Obama White House, other private foundations, state lawmakers, and a range of policy advocates, all of whom have coalesced around the goal of graduating more students, more quickly, and at a lower cost, with little discussion of the alternatives … The effect is an echo chamber of like-minded ideas … Leaders and analysts are uneasy about the future that Gates is buying: a system of education designed for maximum measurability, delivered increasingly through technology, and—these critics say—narrowly focused on equipping students for short-term employability."

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pumiceJul. 31, 1311:16 PM

Re: "[D]o you agree that education can and should be responsibility of the state?" Yep. Education's the responsibility of the State--says so in the state constitution. Do you agree that there's nothing more beneficial for the general welfare than education, briechers? Do you agree that every child is entitled to a world-class education--no matter what state s/he lives in? no matter his/her ability? no matter how poor his/her parent(s) are? no matter the quality of parenting s/he gets?

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briechersAug. 1, 13 6:33 AM

Pumice...I think education produces a return on investment even when done poorly. I think it is a public good that rises above all other public goods. Here I'm defining a public good as something beyond the core responsibilities of the government. My point is that we should not be satisfied with a return of 15% when returns should be 50% or 100% (numbers to make a point only). We convince people to change only when they see something working somewhere else...not by the so-called intellectual arguments in Washington D.C. Isn’t interesting that when the one-size-fits-all approach comes from Bill and Melinda Gates, some of the current educational hierarchy at Command Central aren't so sure about one approach for everyone. If we get out of the way of our states, they will experiment and some great things will happen that will benefit all of us…and most importantly, the children that we all care about and who represent the future of the this country.

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