No Child Left behind and the Reduction of the Achievement Gap: Sociological Perspectives on Federal Educational Policy

By Alan R. Sadovnik; Jennifer A. O’Day et al. | Go to book overview

18
Conclusion
Sociological Perspectives on NCLB and
Federal Involvement in Education1

Alan R. Sadovnik, A. Gary Dworkin, Adam Gamoran, Maureen Hallinan, and Janelle Scott


FEDERAL AND STATE EDUCATIONAL POLICY AND NCLB

A decade ago, in an analysis of Goals 2000, the sociologists contributing to Implementing Educational Reform: Sociological Perspectives on Educational Policy (Borman, Cookson, Sadovnik and Spade, 1996) argued that there were limits and possibilities to school-based educational reforms aimed at reducing educational inequalities based on social class, race, ethnicity, and gender. Ten years later, the sociologists contributing to this book make the same cautionary claim. Unfortunately, politicians in Washington and policymakers continue to ignore the powerful sociological dictum that schools do not operate in a vacuum and are affected by larger social, political, and economic forces.

The purpose of this book is not to add to the often rhetorical and ideological critiques of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), nor to uncritically defend the law. There has been enough of this from both sides of the political and ideological spectrum. Rather, it is to draw upon the theoretical insights and empirical findings in the sociology of education to examine the law’s potential and problems and to contribute to the ongoing policy debates about reauthorization.

The chapters in this book have provided important evidence on NCLB in particular and federal involvement in education, in general. Although we support fully the law’s laudable goal of eliminating the achievement gaps among different groups, these chapters provide essential cautions about the likelihood of this happening as well as pointing out significant problems with the implementation

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