When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2002, it was met with incredible uproar, mainly from the educational community. The National Education Association (NEA) was quick to condemn it, as did many school districts, including the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). This comes as no surprise, because the "A" word - accountability - makes them shudder. Any time you have to produce results, somebody is going to make excuses, place blame elsewhere, or pass the buck.
I'm a teacher who supports No Child Left Behind (NCLB) - but I'm part of a very small minority in the educational community who sees its value. Just about every piece of legislation ever passed has had something that someone didn't like, and this one is no different. Teachers have an incredible amount of work to do already, without the added burdens of NCLB. And I, like most teachers, don't like being told how to do my job. Either I'm a professional and should be trusted, or I'm not and should be fired.
However, when looked at carefully, NCLB makes no unreasonable request. The president wants to see all students meet a certain standard in reading, writing, and math - something we are supposed to be teaching and reinforcing already. So what's the problem?
The problem seems to be in the "standardized" testing. If students do not perform well, the school is deemed a failure.
Reg Weaver, president of the NEA, has noted that Princeton (N.J.) High School was among those listed as failures under NCLB standards, even though of Princeton's students, "100 percent graduate and 79 percent go on to four-year colleges, including seven National Merit semifinalists [in 2003]."