Public Law 107-110 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Support or Threat to Education as a Fundamental Right?

By Mayers, Camille M. | Education, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Public Law 107-110 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Support or Threat to Education as a Fundamental Right?


Mayers, Camille M., Education


"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice and secure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and ensure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America" (Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America).

In crafting this statement, the leadership of the United States of America responds to some fundamental values and beliefs that are inherent in the lore of America and the hearts of its populous: There should be justice for all and that justice is operationalized by a society crafted to facilitate equal opportunity for its citizenry; through equal opportunity, every upstanding citizen would and should have, to the greatest degree possible, the opportunity to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Woodson, 1998).

Sustenance of life might include access to adequate medical care, healthy diet, safe neighborhoods and a good education, for it is only with sound mind and body that an individual is able to have the liberty to access, cultivate and realize the full extent of his or her potential. The process of achieving this realization is the key to the pursuit of happiness. These values are imbedded implicitly in American manifestos and in the great myths of America.

In establishing its public school system, America's forefathers sought to ensure liberty to pursue happiness by helping its immigrant populous to acquire key skills (Perkinson, 1977). Access to English language, the ability to read and write and accurately compute arithmetic were key skills needed to climb the social and economic ladder. These American values, deeply held and often elegantly stated are democratic and aimed at fostering the well being of its entire citizenry, yet in process, the United States citizenry and their government are not always congruent with declared values.

The Politics of Education

One of the greatest threats to the realization of the American myth is the politicization of the educative process. Ideally, each citizen would have the opportunity to be taught by a well trained educator, and teachers would be equipped with an ability and liberty to apply the fruits of their teaching experience to their process as they tailor the delivery of curricula to the idiosyncratic needs of their students. A benchmark of success might be identified and adequate resources supplied to achieve educational goals. The curriculum would be shaped to allow each student the opportunity to identify personal goals and achieve them, without unwitting generation of obstacles to future success. History, Technology, Health Science, Sociology, Literature and the Arts, would be central to the cultivation of a competent citizenry, rather than neglected stepchildren in the educational process. How can a citizen avoid repeating the mistakes, some quite costly, of their forefathers if there is no knowledge of what said mistakes were? How can a citizen apply higher order critical thinking ability to their process if it has not been cultivated? In process, such a citizen might make rash decisions in crisis that ultimately result in enhanced chaos around the world. Such a citizenry might be driven by fear rather than fact as they seek leadership, or avoid it....

In response to enhanced awareness and valuing of the rights of racial and ethnic minorities to have an adequate education, the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Title VI) was passed (Crawford, 2000). Four years later, the 1968 Bilingual and Education Act (BEA) was passed as the Title VII Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). With the passage of BEA came grant funding designated to assist the poor and those with limited English proficiency. It is with the 1968 BEA that a fundamental change is reflected in the language utilized to craft the act (Kloss, 1998). In its previous form (Title VI) students served were to be identified by the language spoken at home with the family. …

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Public Law 107-110 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Support or Threat to Education as a Fundamental Right?
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