Education Letter to the Editor

Iraq vs. NCLB Benchmarks: Am I Missing Something?

September 25, 2007 1 min read

To the Editor:

I find it interesting to note that, as this month dawned, according to news sources, the U.S. Government Accountability Office was expected to imminently report that only five of the 18 benchmarks designed to measure the success of the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq would be fulfilled. I read this as a 28 percent “passing rate.”

Furthermore, according to news reports, this was followed by official comments from the Pentagon noting that “the standard the GAO has set is far more stringent,” and that “some might argue it’s impossible to meet.” Nonetheless, the onslaught of television sound bites by Bush administration spokespersons played up the “progress” and positive outcomes of the administration’s Iraq surge strategy.

Yet under another Bush administration program, the No Child Left Behind Act, a public school that achieves 39 of 40 mandated benchmark indicators (which I would also read as being a 97 percent “passing rate”) is nonetheless labeled a school “in need of improvement,” with significant and swift sanctions, and little recourse.

Am I the only one missing something here?

Scott E. Rixford


West Paterson Public Schools

West Paterson, N.J.

A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 2007 edition of Education Week as Iraq vs. NCLB Benchmarks: Am I Missing Something?