Monday, January 10, 2005

No Child Left Behind: How George W. Bush pens laws that simultaneosly defy good Republican values and support bad Republican values...and other long headlines.

Part One: Why conservatives should oppose NCLB

As if his lax immigration policy, deficit spending, (botched) nation-building, and aggregious curtailment of Constitutionally-guaranteed civil liberties weren't enough to curl any self-respecting Republican's hair, George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law should do the trick.

In short, all public school students are tested annually in a series of categories; schools that fail to meet strict standards are required to offer free tutoring and after-school academic services; students attending these schools are given the option of transfering to a higher-scoring school in the district, and the district must pay for transportation to the new school if necessary; students at persistently failing schools must be given funds to attend a public or private educational service provider.

As lovely as all these additional services sound, Bush has failed to provide adequate money to administer tests or provide tutoring, transportation, or supplemental education services. Each aforementioned service mandated by NCLB must be paid for by Title I funds - preexisting monies allotted to states and districts independent of the monetay need imposed by NCLB requirements.

No Child Left Behind is like George's illegitimate child: he's happy to bring it into this world, but he's not going to pay for it to grow up.

What should be problematic about this law to Republicans and conservatives are the limitations it imposes on state and local legislatures in deciding how schools are run. Rather than giving "underperforming" (and I use that word semi-facetiously) schools the freedom to devise their own improvement plans, here the federal government mandates simplistic solutions that most likely interfere with local communitites' preexisting values and educational techniques. The authors of the law (none of whom decided to include any scientifically-backed evidence that the impositions in NCLB are effective) are declaring that they know more about education than trained educators.

Further, every "option" afforded to parents, teachers, schools, districts, and states are "options" that wouldn't be available to them had NCLB become law. In other words, the Bush administration created choice where no restrictions previously existed. It's like if I broke into your house and said "You can either give me your television or your wallet." Isn't choice great?!

Again, in many instances of local "choice," schools and districts are not given enough money by the federal goverment to provide services like school selection. Every claim of choice in this law is completely illusory and an attempt to bait advocates of local control into supporting this misguided set of restrictions.

Independent of this federal versus local control debate, every American should support educational reform drafted by individuals (preferably educators) who have scientific or hands-on experience with assessing deficiencies in the classroom and diagnosing effective techniques for improvement. This is not the case with NCLB.

Which brings me to Part Two's topic: How No Child Left Behind undermines teachers. I bet you can't wait.

For more splendidly sugar-coated information about NCLB, vist your government's website on the topic.


Post a Comment