The Indianapolis Star printed a "My View" today on the topic of NCLB. Not that I want to sound like a one note Johnny or anything… but this reinforces my bigger point about how the debate about NCLB is now as mucha public debate as it is political. The result will be significant changes, if not outright repeal (as the Commissioner of Education in Utah has suggested), of the law.
There is no question that the No Child Left Behind Act has served to dramatically elevate the discourse regarding the need to improve student achievement. In particular, it has caused educators and policymakers to awaken to the disproportionate achievement levels of various subgroup populations, especially students from lower socioeconomic groups, with the greatest effects on black and Latino students. For these "awakenings," NCLB must receive support from teachers and administrators.
However, in the national rush to implement NCLB, the intent of the law appears to have taken on a very narrow focus and a myopic view of the scope and purpose of public education. In effect, we seem to be moving in a direction where successful schooling resonates only with a continual improvement in math and reading scores. This leaves behind a plethora of other essential courses and instructional content.
This reality is brought into focus by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy, which recently reported in its extensive review of the effect of NCLB that 71 percent of the districts surveyed have reduced instructional time in at least one other subject. CEP also reported that the courses are generally removed from the curriculum to make more time for reading and math — the topics tested for NCLB. In a Washington Post column ("Reading Across the Board," April 2), Jim Sollisch, a writer from Cleveland, referenced this report by observing, "In order not to leave your child behind, we have to leave your child behind in social studies, science, and foreign languages."