In Search of a 10,000 Pound Gorilla

September 15, 2008 1 min read

I read in the Washington Post this morning that there’s a 10,000 pound gorilla on the loose. It’s called NCLB.

I thought I might find it at the Aspen Institute’s national summit on education. No one there seemed to have seen it.

When moderator Ronald Brownstein asked a panel of four whether NCLB had a “net positive” or “net negative” impact, three said “net positive.” No surprise there. All of them (Kati Haycock of the Education Trust and superintendents Beverly Hall of Atlanta and John Deasy of Prince George’s County, Md.) have said similar things in recent months. AFT President Randi Weingarten gave the law an incomplete grade. That’s a big difference from calling it “too badly broken to be fixed,” as she did at the AFT convention in July.

Haycock summarized what she’s looking for in an NCLB reauthorization in four words: “Same principles, better details.”

For Hall, the “better details” would include growth models as well as better assessment and accountability of special education students and English language learners. For Deasy, the fixes would include setting national standards and so that teachers will have a clear idea of what they need to teach and tests to help them determine whether students are learning what they need to know.

So, why is everyone afraid of this 10,000 pound gorilla called NCLB?

Maybe I’ll find out tomorrow morning when I’m at the first meeting of the Department of Education’s National Technical Advisory Council.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.