Thursday, April 21, 2005

Dissatisfaction with NCLB

I am certainly no expert on the details of the President's educational package known as "No Child Left Behind", but I am beginning to read more and more that makes me doubt it is such a good deal for this country. As I understand the logic of the legislation, the schools are to show progress in the testing results of all children in various schools in order to avoid the dreaded label of "non-performing". That certainly makes good sense at first blush. Now that it has been in effect for awhile, however, the education establishment is beginning to howl that certain groups are holding them back because they are not performing through no fault of the wonderful teachers, administrators, school boards, etc. If children from poor neighborhoods with poor parents, children with learning disabilities, and other sub-groups of students were not included, the test scores would be just fine, thank you. One might have predicted such a response by the failing teachers and schools, but now we have a problem with the Bush administration going wobbly, it seems. The new Secretary of Education, Margret Spellings, was recently quoted thusly:"From now on, more students with academic disabilities will be allowed to take tests that are specifically geared to their abilities...". This sounds to me like gobbledegook that means lazy or unintelligent children will no longer be held to the same standards as industrious ones and the tests will be dumbed down so everyone can pass. If that is the case we have a situation where the emphasis is on raising the lower echelon of student and none on helping the gifted students which this country is going to count on to lead this country in every way. If we don't devise a way to avoid a stifling of our gifted students in early grades, this country is going to suffer greatly. Furthermore, the students who have been the recipient of an artificial support system in the educational system will eventually be required to compete in a real world where they will hopefully be judged on achievement rather than activity. Hope I am wrong.

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