“No Child Left Behind” (NCLB), or as many educators say it “NickelB,” was created by the George W. Bush administration to improve our nations education system. It had a reasonable purpose and great intentions, but like many political plans , it sets a high goal with no direction as how to obtain the goal. The bill was immitated from the state of Texas’ education system. Students made great improvement and achievement on their states standardized tests . Only years after NCLB was adopted did President Bush and the nation find out that the Texas state scores weren’t accurate. It was discovered that when a state subject area assessment was presented to eighth grade students, some schools/districts would hold back their lower achieving 7th grade students, then would skip them to 9th grade this way they didn’t have to take the state test . Only the brightest and best students in these schools were being assesed on the test . This dishonesty gave reasons for the unbelievable scores increase and success of the Texas state testing procedure . As a result of NCLB, school districts around our nation are chasing this goal, like “Ricky” jumping for the balloon in the film, “Better Off Dead.” Here is a brief compilation of some of the identified objectives of NCLB:
- All students will score proficiency or better in reading and math by the 2013-14 school year.
- All teachers will be highly qualified.
- Schools and classrooms will be safe, drug free, and conducive to learning.
- All students will graduate high school
I will discuss each topic in the list and why or why not it is a good expectation.
1) All students will score proficiency or better in reading and math by 2013-14 school year: This item says that everyone will be good in reading and math. This is not possible . As a teacher, I know that every student has his or her own abilities, strengths, talents, and yes, weaknesses. This is what makes us unique and different individuals. To think that anyone can legislate everyone to be the same, doesn’t make sense. Also, a lot of students attend school sporadically . These students may miss 26 days per semester. Why would we expect them to be proficient in math and reading. What can an educator possibly do to help students that are absent much of the semester? Many of these students do not/can’t make up missing work or ask for extra help? Finally, there are students that refuse to learn.
2) All teachers will be highly qualified: This topic can definitely be addressed and met. There are a few concerns that need to be taken care of in order to satisfy this requirement. First, something has to make teaching more interesting to young college students. With low pay and huge amount of responsibility for today’s classroom teachers, new educators leave the career after 2 years (average). Principals need to help pressure off of educators so that the job is less stressful and more rewarding . If it continues, schools will have to fill openings with whoever they can get.
3) Schools and classrooms will be safe, drug free, and conducive to learning. I am not sure if there is anything that can make our classrooms truly safe. I believe that many of the procedures being used to eliminate illegal drugs in our schools are starting to work. Again, can we really ever stop drugs completely? The portion of this statement that needs to be addressed the most is the part of “conducive to learning.” Many times a teacher is graded on classroom management. This means that if a teacher sends a student to the principal’s office, he/she is actually graded lower on his/her evaluation. This could cause teachers to be disqualified for a pay-raise or other negative results. A lot teachers just try to ignore disruptive children and hope for the best. School and school district budgets are tight . Districts are often paid by their state using a scale dependant on the number of children that are in school. Therefore, it reduces state revenue to suspend students out-of-school for discipline reasons. These disruptive students do not leave school and make it very difficult for the teacher to maintain a conducive learning environment. The final result is that students know there are no consequences for negative behavior. Soon the students that want to learn quit because they can’t learn in this chaotic atmosphere and say to themselves, “Well, they aren’t doing their work. Why should I?”
4) All students will graduate high school: There is no way to make someone graduate. I have had students quit high school when they are juniors, so they could work for their the family business. With in a few years some of these former students make twice as much money as I make as a teacher. Who are we to say to a student, “You have to stay in school.” There are times when students just want to get out of high school and quit . We as teachers can counsel them to stay in high school, but the final say is up to the student and his/her family. Why is it that these students, for what ever reason, wants to quit high school, counts against the school dictated by to NCLB? Just the fact that the US government decides they know what local schools should teach is not logical . I live in a small town where many of our students become farmers or work in the coal mines. Some of these people have no desire to go to college and are happy following in their fathers footsteps or even going into the family business. These students need to go to school to learn what they need to be a responsible part of society and to get a job that will support their families.