Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why Liberals Dislike No Child Left Behind

The landmark No Child Left Behind Act, which liberals in the education establishment through the MSM have tried to discredit, is actually an excellent law. Don't let the liberal media influence you without researching the law yourself. No Child Left Behind is based on four key principles:

1. Accountability for results
2. More choice for disadvantaged children
3. Greater flexibility for federal funds
4. Teaching methods that work

Notice the dreaded words for liberals: accountability and choice. NCLB requires states to test in two subjects in grades 3 through 8, and the test data given to the federal government must be broken down into five categories:

1. Race.
2. L.E.P. (Limited English Proficiency)
3. Poverty level
4. Disabilities
5. Ethnicity

The report cards given by the schools to the government have to demonstrate how well the students are doing on meeting the standards, but most importantly (and this is why NCLB is such a good law and the real reason so many in the educational establishment abhor the law) on how these disaggregate groups are making in closing the achievement gap.

By the year 2014, 100% of students are to be proficient in language arts and math, including the subgroups. Schools must set targets and meet AYP or Adequate Yearly Progress, for all groups and subgroups of students. The techniques to measure AYP are not unreasonable. Up to 1% of students can be exempted (or more as long as the no more than 1% of all students in a school district are exempted) for strong disabilities. If schools do not meet AYP, then schools are subject to the following consequences incrementally:

1. Tutoring assistance
2. Restructuring
3. Corrective action

Can anyone guess why the education establishment, including wealthy school districts receptive to "progressive" techniques in teaching and methods "social justice" professors promote, would find NCLB to be hostile to their interests?

For far too long, wealthy school districts, like the county I live in--Fairfax County--have hidden behind averages when reporting test scores from their district. Fairfax County is a great example of the problems NCLB needed to address. Here you have a suburban Washington D.C. county that has a population of about one million people and is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. Naturally, with all the wealth from property taxes and money wealthy parents have to afford tutors allowed for very high average test scores.

Of course, there are pockets of poverty and low income students, mostly African-American and Hispanic in certain parts of the County, especially around the Route 1 corridor of Alexandria near Mount Vernon. These students were being failed by the "progressive" methods being used in Fairfax County and were considered expendible because their numbers did not affect the average test scores. Not any more with No Child Left Behind.

Wealthy parents can afford phonics books, grammar computer programs, and tutors for their children who cannot learn from the "progressive" techniques. Less wealthy parents cannot. With AYP measuring not only the school as a whole, but rather all groups within the school, wealthy school districts like Fairfax County can no longer claim to be successful if they are not meeting the needs of all the children, rich and poor alike.

Wealthier, more "progressive" districts are often hostile to No Child Left Behind because the law will expose the inadequacies of their constructivist, "child-centered" learning techniques that have never been scientifically proven in studies to be effective, especially on minority children. It is commendable that proponents of No Child Left Behind, such as the Education Trust, are not backing down amid calls of increasing the numbers of students exempted from AYP, such as ESL students or students with "learning disabilities."

As many educators throughout the nation such as Marva Collins have shown (terrific book recommendation: Marva Collins' Way), who are often ignored by the MSM, traditional, academic-centered education benefits students from lower socioeconomic levels (and all students in general) far more than "progressive" education does. Many students labeled "learning disabled" are simply students who cannot learn with these "progressive" teaching methods and have no other recourse. With the AYP provisions, schools most likely will have to change ineffective construtivist techniques in order to meet AYP. This accountability threatens the interests of the liberal education establishment.


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Anonymous said...

ALL subgroups have to be 100% proficient? Even the learning disabled? Even the severely handicapped children? Even the mentally retarded? No methods have been able to teach the retarded over the past centuries, what works now? What will get them to all pass by 2014?

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