In a March 2 column I took special interest groups to task for spending more time bemoaning the federal No Child Left Behind Act than helping to implement its worthy principles.
To refresh everyone's memory, federal education reform sailed through Congress with applause rippling down both sides of the political aisle. Lawmakers have since remembered who keeps their campaign coffers full and recriminations of NCLB now flow like water.
The bill isn't perfect. As I've written, NCLB needs more funding, more flexibility and a departure from the one-size-fits all approach all too common in federal laws. However, NCLB's spotlight on the mediocrity passing for education these days is without question, the strongest governmental stance on our schools in a long, long while. The law places sharp scrutiny on the achievement levels of students who are low-income, minority or enrolled in special education. This is appropriate because those groups were most likely to be academically left behind.
Most superintendents and principals that I talk to like the federal law's high standards and tough accountability system. But among teachers there is widespread fear. Only two years into its implementation, one in every ten public schools nationwide is facing sanctions under NCLB's tough provisions.
We can let this frighten the heck out of us or we can realize how much work there is to be done in our schools.
Teachers and others in education do themselves a disservice by seeing the federal law as a detriment. If they discourage these and other efforts as intrusive, parents will continue to flee the public schools for private and parochial ones. Vouchers and charter schools will continue to resonate with segments of our population.
A response from a smart reader bears repeating:
Education is like law and medicine; it's too important to be left in the hands of those with the greatest self-interest in keeping things quiet and the same - the educators.
Respond to Lynne.
Blog written by Lynne Varner.