Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Makeover Needed for No Child Left Behind: Congress Should Allocate Necessary Funding to Carry out Mandate

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Makeover Needed for No Child Left Behind: Congress Should Allocate Necessary Funding to Carry out Mandate

Article excerpt

THE 110TH U.S. CONGRESS, WHICH CONVENED THIS MONTH, NEEDS TO BRING A COMPLETE MAKEOVER OF the No Child Left Behind Act to the top of its agenda. This highly acclaimed law has the delusive appearance of being the "cure all" for public schools. Champions of NCLB strongly purport that it will improve the performance of students in elementary, middle and high schools. Supporters also claim that the law will improve accountability standards in school districts and allow parents to choose which schools their children will attend. However, it appears to be a colossal myth that "no child is left behind." In fact, many children every day are being left behind and left out.

What's wrong with No Child Left Behind? Among other things, the law has not been fully funded as promised. Numerous schools are facing escalating penalties and are being denied the necessary resources to remedy their problems.

States are required to distribute report cards on the performance of school districts. The law requires each school to show annual progress on standardized tests, and every racial group must also show improvement. If a subgroup fails to show adequate yearly progress, the entire school is labeled as failing, as are schools with low graduation rates. As a result, many schools manipulate the figures or pressure students, mainly Blacks and Hispanics, to leave school to improve the school's statistical profile.

Many minority parents are extremely frustrated because of this law. Third-graders are being held back after failing a specific standardized test, which demoralizes the student and the parent.

Only Congress can fix the mess it created. If NCLB is here to stay, Congress should allocate the funding needed to carry out its mandates. Flexibility also should be built into the system of accountability, which would allow poor urban and rural schools to meet the unique needs of their students. …

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