…according to a recent 50-state survey by Teachers Network, a non-profit education organization, exactly 3% of teachers think NCLB helps them to teach more effectively. No wonder 129 education and civil rights organizations have endorsed a letter to Congress deploring the law's overemphasis on standardized testing and punitive sanctions. No wonder 30,000 people (so far) have signed a petition at educatorroundtable.org calling the law "too destructive to salvage."I would add that due to the emphasis on testing, what can happen when a child doesn’t measure up in the face of the relentless “teach to the test” onslaught is that the door opens for consultants in the “learning” business to come into the picture and tutor the child to in the hope of producing better test results. Some of these people are superbly talented professionals doing their best to help, and some are utter hacks whose only goal is to keep the parents paying them and thus justify their existence (even going so far as to encourage the family to climb onto the merry-go-round, so to speak, of endless counseling to address one type of perceived inadequacy or another, which subsequently generates even more money both for themselves and another education “consultant”).
NCLB didn't invent the scourge of high-stakes testing, nor is it responsible for the egregious disparity between the education received by America's haves and have-nots. But by intensifying the former, it exacerbates the latter.
This law cannot be fixed by sanding its rough edges. It must be replaced with a policy that honors local autonomy, employs better assessments, addresses the root causes of inequity and supports a rich curriculum. The question isn't how to save NCLB; it's how to save our schools - and kids -from NCLB.
This curse of an administration will be remembered most infamously for the Iraq war followed by Katrina and its aftermath, but the pox of NCLB will rank in its top five list of failures (and before anyone waxes apoplectic over Ted Kennedy's involvement in this, I should note that he has opposed the paltry funding of this law; I respectfully disagree with his call for renewing NCLB here).