Why “No Child Left Behind” Left So Many of Our Children BehindApr 30th, 2011 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Featured Articles, General Homeschool Posts
Ever since NCLB was signed into law, there has been a public outcry about its value. The objections have become deafening as we rapidly approach the 2014 deadline. From where we sit now, unfortunately, it looks like our national public school system could very well be headed for a 100% failure rate in just three years.
So what happened? Why did No Child Left Behind end up leaving so many children behind? Well, here are three reasons:
1. “Show Me the Money”
NCLB was chronically underfunded from the get-go. Each year it was in effect, the program generally received at least $6 or $7 billion less than requested. During some years, NCLB received as much as $20 billion less than was needed to run the program effectively. Fast forward to 2011: with states slashing educational funding to make up for budget shortfalls, our public schools are hurting…and there’s no end in sight to the crisis.
2. “Teaching to the Test”
NCLB’s “test-and-punish” policy has led to a school system in which education takes a back seat to test scores. Schools no longer have a vested interest in helping educate kids. Rather, those children whose scores are bringing down a school’s test score average are encouraged to go elsewhere in order to raise the school’s overall average.
Because NCLB mandates punitive measures for failing schools and schools that fail to demonstrate improvement, teachers have been forced to focus classroom instruction on just English and Math skills to boost test scores. School systems are choosing to ignore science, history, the arts and humanities. Many teachers believe that this practice distorts education, and hurts our children. I agree – it leaves our children far behind in many subjects that are key to our country’s long-term success.
3. “No Solution to the Problem”
The solutions to poor school performance offered up by the NCLB legislation are one-size-fits-all fixes. And we all know that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all anything! In fact, these “solutions” may even make poor performance worse. The problems our nations’ schools face tend to be complex, with local, cultural and demographic aspects. However, the NCLB requires school districts to apply the exact same set of solutions in each school that fails to meet its goals, regardless of the school’s unique circumstances.
Far from making every American child proficient in math and reading, the NCLB and our public schools have ended up crafting an educational system that is bankrupting our school systems. All of this hurts our children’s’ education – and by extension their futures.
It isn’t all bad, however – there actually is a bright spot. What NCLB exposed was the very real achievement gaps that exist among minority and low-income students. What is frustrating for us educators is that the law doesn’t help correct the problem, it merely shines a light on it.
As educators continue sizing up the impact of NCLB in the classroom, some are looking at other indicators and trends. Private schools have seen sluggish growth, likely due to rising tuition costs. Homeschooling – on the other hand – grew 74% between 2000 and 2007, highlighting growing parental concerns with America’s school system.
How has NCLB impacted your child’s education during the past 10 years?
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