5 May 2012
No Child Left Behind: Changing Educations Paradigm
On January 8 2002, after decades of empty talking and political quarreling, two men—a conservative republican president and a leader of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, put aside their differences for the sake of America’s children and signed The No Child Left Behind Act, making it a public law. This act was the federal government’s attempt to improve our public education system. America, a nation that had put a man on the moon, was finally going to fix education. The goal was to have 100% proficiency in math and reading by 2014 and to improve standards of accountability for our schools within the states; but in truth, effective teaching in the classrooms have been reduced and states were encouraged to lower their standards… It should be simple, a teacher is supposed to fill her students with knowledge and send them out into the world, but we have made it complicated. Why is it that the same student who fails a proficiency test in one state can drive a few miles south and pass a similar test in another state? Here’s why. The federal government passes laws and sends money to the states, but the states fund schools also—they set their own often conflicting standards and there are more than 1400 autonomous school boards; making school governments a tangled mess of conflicting guidelines and mixed agendas, we’ve got local school boards, superintendents, the districts, the federal government and they huge staffs; the things we’ve done to help our schools work better, have become the things that prevent them from working.
So now fast-forward 10 years, we have only 2 years left to reach our goal, 100% proficiency in Math and Reading. In Alabama only 18% of 8th graders are proficient in math, Mississippi only 14%, but it is not just in southern states, New York 30%, Arizona 26%, and in California just 24% of 8th graders are proficient in math. When 8th graders across the country...