A Look at NCLB

At the suggestion of Dr. Teri Lesesne and Dr. Mary Ann Bell, two of my favorite professors from grad school, I read two articles–yet two more articles, I should say–that question the efficacy of mandates made by No Child Left Behind. Great food for thought as we ponder changes in our schools.

From Jordan Sonnenblick’s Killing Me Softly: No Child Left Behind

Our arts programs are gutted, our shop courses are gone, foreign languages are a distant memory. What’s left are double math classes; mandatory after-school drill sessions; the joyless, sweaty drudgery of summer school. Our kids come to us needing more of everything that is joyous about the life of the mind. They need nature walks, field trips, poetry, recess…What they’re getting is workbooks.

Study: Reading Program Doesn’t Boost Comprehension
In this recent AP article, reporter Nancy Zuckerbrod visits the Department of Education’s own study of NCLB’s Reading First program–a study finding “no difference in comprehension scores between students who participated in Reading First and those who did not.” Food for thought. These are two articles that are definitely worthy reading for school librarians and, in fact anyone with an interest in American public schools.

If we are truly making “data driven decisions” in schools today, what of these findings? It seems that we have encountered more problems than solutions with NCLB. What now?

Who among the legislators is listening and asking the real, tough, expensive questions? Can we afford to change course after the billions of dollars that have gone into NCLB changes in schools? I think of Daniel Pink’s insistence that, to thrive in the 21st century global economy, the United States must find a way to encourage ingenuity, design, creativity in our workforce. These are exactly the qualities that we discourage in our students today with NCLB, in my opinion. Can we really afford not to change course? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think…

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