Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Basketball Analogy Doesn’t Fit ‘No Child’ Law

May 15, 2007 1 min read

To the Editor:

In your April 25, 2007, issue, Washington attorney John W. Borkowski is quoted as comparing the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act to a basketball tournament in which every team must come in first (“Clinton Criticizes Testing Required by NCLB”). This is so, he says, because all children “will be expected to have the same basketball skills at the same time and in the same conditions” and “play basketball at a proficient level.”

Taking Mr. Borkowski’s analogy at face value, one huge flaw in it is that every state has an achievement category beyond proficiency, usually denominated “advanced.” So the team that has the most advanced players is likely to win.

Second, in athletic endeavors, the coach of a team is expected to produce the most skilled players, and coaches who are unsuccessful often find themselves looking for new jobs. Members of the National School Boards Association (at whose annual convention Mr. Borkowski was speaking), who supervise districts and principals, in many cases do not set the same standards as those established for coaches. If they did, we might be seeing more academic progress.

The analogy is silly to begin with, of course. The mission of athletic contests may necessarily entail producing winners and losers. But the goal of public education is not to have losers, but to ensure that all students are prepared for further education, productive employment, and informed citizenship.

William L. Taylor

Chair

Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights

Washington, D.C.

A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2007 edition of Education Week as Basketball Analogy Doesn’t Fit ‘No Child’ Law

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read