Friday, January 27, 2006

No Child Left Behind

At dinner tonight the topic of the No Child Left Behind act of 2002 was raised. I had always seen this as one of the few real positives from the Bush administration, and one policy I cold really get behind. But tonight I gained a fresh perspective on the initiative.

First and foremost, the program is under funded. Bush has cited record school spending, but there was no question that when Bush promised this Bill during the last campaign that it would be an expensive undertaking. Unfortunately, with large portions of the country’s resources being drained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Katrina and the devastating hurricane season, Bush has had to cut funding on the program every year.

But while funding is a problem, it’s not the only problem. Many indicate that the program itself is flawed, and that it does not promote true learning. Goals are set too high based on the current level of aptitude amongst students; this forces kids to learn only what is needed for the tests, and learning does not continue to increase naturally after the test is completed. Basically, kids are learning how to be better test takers, as opposed to being better at math and reading.

The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures has also issued a scathing rebuke of the law, calling it a coercive act that sets unreachable goals. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has tried to temper those concerns, changing enforcement of the law to give states more flexibility in how they measure student progress and teacher quality

"The system is working. That's what's important for people to understand," Bush said. But the president did not mention some of the test's less flattering results. The fourth-grade reading performance was essentially flat, and in eighth grade, reading scores dropped.

You know, I’ve been accused of being too liberal, and hating Bush blindly, so I’ve been trying very hard to find a Bush policy I can get behind. However, it looks like I’ll have to keep looking, as this program does not seem to have accomplished its goals. But I do have to applaud Bush for making education a priority, and trying to improve the system. And hey, I have only found a little bit to read on the topic, if you have more information, please send it my way so I can learn more about the program.

Posted by Scottage at 1:57 AM / | |