Happy (Belated) Birthday NCLB! (Part 1)

Not long ago (okay, almost two weeks now) the No Child Left Behind Act quietly turned eight years old. NCLB is arguably Pres. Bush's smallest disaster (hold your applause). In fact, as a fervent, anti-Bush bleeding heart liberal, I would even say it has the potential to be his finest achievement. Whether NCLB redeems Dubya's legacy however, remains to be seen, and much of it depends on how Pres. Obama and Congress steer the direction of education reform from here on out.

Now many of you might be wondering how I could be such a fan of NCLB. Aren't teachers supposed to hate it? Hasn't it just turned education into teaching to the test. I'll get to that later. For all it's flaws, I do believe that NCLB has changed public education for the better, and I hope that it will ultimately bring about changes that will fix American education for good. In the mean time, NCLB deserves credit for making public education a major issue in American politics and for changing the nature of that discussion for the better.

In the years since NCLB was enacted concepts such as accountability, student achievement and high standards for all have permeated school systems that have often accepted defeatism. For all his struggles with the English language (see the top of this blog) Dubya also gave us the phrase "the soft bigotry of lowered expectations." NCLB has most succeeded in publicizing the achievement gap and leading the efforts to close it. As a direct result, Black and Hispanic students are closing the gap for the first time in 25 years. That's something we all should celebrate.


Pete Zucker said…
What flavor Kool-Aid do you prefer?
Ruben Brosbe said…
read carefully, because you'll see I think NCLB is flawed. So flawed in fact I needed to break this post up into several parts to keep the length reasonable. Check back for Parts 2 & 3 (and possibly 4) all of which will talk about the major issues with NCLB. But like any teacher knows, when you want someone/some legislation to improve, you need to start out with a positive.

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