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No Child Left Behind, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 609

Research Paper

Some opinions argue that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act goes too far. Opponents of the Bill argue that students do not get a comprehensive enough education because the Law forces teachers to teach students to pass standardized tests. Furthermore, they argue that once teachers get into the habit of teaching for that purpose, they tend not to push the limits of pedagogy. Although these opinions are valid to some extent, they miss the causative situation that led to the enactment of NCLB.

For the purpose of concession, American charter school system is examined. Charter schools are progressive learning institutions geared toward providing relief for students living in areas with poor public schools (Guggenheim, 2010). What prompted the Government to fund these schools was that teacher unions had become so powerful that, once a teacher reached tenure, they could do as lousy as a job as they wanted but could not be fired (Haskell, 1998). Public schools in Washington D.C. were a prime example. Students there performed “at the bottom among 11 major city school systems” and “thirty-three percent of poor fourth-graders across the nation lacked basic skills in math” (Keating and Haynes, 2007).

Although the worst public school system is in Washington, D. C., many states are experiencing failure at the academic level. The government has tried to offset these trends. For example, D. C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee subscribed to the idea that if students fail, it was the fault of institution. Thus, she fired teachers of students that were not meeting certain minimum standards (Thomas, Conant & Wingert, 2008). The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of American Colleges (AAC) “assures faculty the right to pursue any line of inquiry in the course of their teaching or research without being censored, penalized or fired by university administrators” supported teachers against this policy (Haskell, 1997). Charter schools have demonstrated that teacher performance can account for huge differences in learning. Seeing the opportunity brought be these changes, The Department of Education has implemented Race for the Top. Race for the Top gives financial rewards to schools where students perform at certain levels with respect to mathematics and reading.

D.C. was just one of many failing schools systems. Teachers in some districts were not teaching well enough for many students to be able to even pass standardized tests – let alone actually learn anything academically significant outside of that. NCLB became necessary because teacher unions worked to keep bad teachers in place and would not allow good teachers to make much more than the worst teachers. Although NCLB is not perfect, for students from poorly performing school districts, it is better than the alternative if they could not afford to go to a private school and a charter school was unavailable.

Nevertheless, it is not just unions who are to blame for the crisis. Issues that contribute to the crisis in the American public school system includes overpopulation, scarcity, and corruption. Questions related to education policy are paramount. Education is one of the most politicized institutions in American politics. To thoroughly analyze trends in education requires an interdisciplinary approach including economics, political science, and sociology.  Questions related to education policy are paramount. The hope has been to delineate proactive solutions to some of these problems.

References

Guggenheim, D. (2010). Waiting for Superman [Motion picture]. U.S.A.

Haskell, R. E. (1998). Academic freedom, tenure, and student evaluation of faculty: Galloping polls in the 21st Century. ERIC® / AE Digest Series EDO-TM-98-09. Catholic University of America: Department of Education.

Keating, D. & Haynes, V. D. (2007). Can D. C. Schools Be Fixed? Washington Post, June 10.

Thomas, E., Conant, E. & Wingert, P. (2008). An Unlikely Gambler. Newsweek, September 1.

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