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Lead from the Start: its just too big - lets break into pieces

Friday, July 04, 2008

its just too big - lets break into pieces

“Where did NCLB come from and why didn’t anyone see it coming?” The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was signed in to law in 2002. The law passed, according to 384 yes to 45 no in the House of Representatives (34 of those nays were Republicans), and in the Senate with 91 yes and 8 nays (6 of which were Republicans). It was a landslide because it was a politically useful bill to representatives and senators. Besides, no one would want to be “The congressman who wanted to leave kids behind”

Now we are left with a law that is too helpful to get rid of, because it causes some states to improve service to sub-groups, calls for challenging state standards, and tests those standards with National Assessment of Educational Progress. And, a law that is so big and has so many unintended consequences that it can not remain intact. Some reasons for changing the law include a weakening of some states’ assessment and accountability systems and a lowering of standards in some states. Finally, it has distracted some policy makers from the actual goal of the law, to help kids, by raising authority issues and power struggles between the U.S. Department of Education and the states.

In our current situation I can’t help but think of the decision to leave education to the states and out of the constitution, as a good decision. By leaving education up to the states we have had a continually improving national school system. A pluralistic approach enabled states to adopt best practices and still empower communities to try to “do” education their own way. This combination of flexible pluralism and adoption of best practices is similar to the process of teaching that has been used in classrooms for hundreds of years.

My idea for the reauthorization if NCLB is to break the law into three parts with 3 staggered reauthorization dates. This is a similar strategy to the one former president of the Virginia Board of Education Kirk Schroder took in the revision of the Virginia Standards of Learning. He helped to set a schedule for the revision of the standards on a rotating 7 year schedule and put the most contentious standards, social studies, at the end of the line for revision.

This is the proposed schedule and Title groupings.

Revision 2012

Revision 2014

Revision 2016

Title II High Quality Teachers and Principals

Title VI Flexibility Accountability

Title I Disadvantaged Students

Title IV 21st Century Schools

Title VIII Impact Aid

Title III English Language Learners

Title V Parent Choice

Title IX General Provisions

Title VII Indian, Native Alaskan, native Hawaiian

Title X Repeals & Amendments

If congress were to reauthorize NCLB, with a revision schedule and some compromises on already proposed revisions, NCLB could become the tool the nation could use to realize NCLB’s goals, every child on track to successful school careers.

There is one consequence of NCLB that I am very happy about. It has put education in the news and on citizen’s minds. An education law of this scope and consequence could likely never be passed again without large input from constituents. Teachers, parents, a lawmakers are now attuned to the consequences of not paying attention to their children’s education policy.

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At 10:15 AM, Blogger Melissa B. said...

I'm happy about NCLB in one regard only: the law got me out of teaching AP English! In our district, we teach 5 classes--pretty standard contract. According to NCLB, we are not allowed to teach more than 2/5 of our course load out of our discipline! My administrator had been loading me up with AP, when my chief endorsement is journalism. I've been All Journalism All the Time for 2 years now, and I'm lovin' life! BTW, don't forget my Silly Sunday Sweepstakes tomorrow--I've got a pretty funny snap this week!


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