I enjoyed the interview with Douglas Carnine, the former Bush adviser who was an “architect” of the No Child Left Behind Act [“Called To Account,” Current Events, October 2004], as I have often wondered about those who shaped this piece of legislation. Just a few weeks before the presidential election, something Carnine said really struck me. He comments, “It’s not perfect legislation, and it’s not perfect implementation, and the process will improve it. ...” Whether it will improve, though, still seems in question. According to polls, one of the biggest things undecided voters like myself wanted to see during the [presidential] debates was Bush admitting that he had made mistakes, that all of his legislation was not perfect or perfectly implemented. While most viewers probably thought of Iraq, as a public school teacher my thoughts turned to NCLB.
Although other legislators in Congress have made moves to correct the shortcomings of this act, neither Bush nor the top proponents of the bill have ever publicly recognized that it’s not perfect or that educators might know what they’re talking about when it comes to identifying problems in legislation like NCLB. Recognition is the first step in nearly all rehab programs, and recognition from the top that NCLB needs revising might be the first step toward rehabilitating a well- intentioned piece of educational policy.
Elizabeth A. Self