Education in America: If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It. Oops.

31 07 2007

by torytheeducator

A new version of the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB, has been introduced to the Congress in Washington. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2007 has been proposed to the Senate by Republicans Gregg and Burr. On the surface it would seem Bush’s brain child for education was getting a little update. However, upon further review, it seems that the Burr-Gregg bill is a complete makeover of the 2002 version. The bill itself seeks to refine and extend the reach of the federal government in matters of K-12 education. Many of the provisions seek to pull more money out of schools who do not meet the academic benchmarks set forth by legislation of the same name in 2002. The new bill would also allow the federal government to set new regulations on qualifications for teachers and further push the idea of merit pay for all teachers.

One of the ways in which the government sells this act is that it rewards schools that show improvement in standardized test scores from one year to the next. However, what most people fail to realize is there is only a certain amount of money allocated for education from the federal government. This means that while improving schools are rewarded, schools that regress or do not show as much improvement are penalized. It would appear that this goes against all the rhetoric entwined in the American consciousness.

The new law would not only penalize these schools more, but also make it tougher for those who actually want to become teachers. This is one of the hallmarks of NCLB. Under the new legislation, individual student scores would be rewarded to schools, even if that child decides to attend another school. This means that the money would follow that student to the school they attend. Therefore, the school that helped the child improve could be penalized if the child decides to leave.

There may never be a perfect solution to the growing education problem in the United States, yet this would appear to be a step backward. The only analogy that comes to mind is that of a fountain. Those who improve get to go to the fountain and scoop out money to their heart’s content. People from all over come and help them scoop all they can and want. Those who did not must sit and watch alone, with empty buckets.

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