To the Editor:
Regarding “Early-Childhood Issues Raised for NCLB Law”
(Nov. 15, 2006):
The federal No Child Left Behind Act has poisoned schools with inappropriate and excessive testing, reduced reading instruction to mindless phonemic-awareness and phonics exercises, and encouraged the elimination of in-school free reading.
In the view of many scholars, research evidence did not support these moves, and, contrary to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ claims, there is no evidence that the law has resulted in any improvement in student progress, or in any “closing of the gap” between children from low- and high-income families. (For further information see Gerald W. Bracey’s “The 16th Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education” in the October 2006 Phi Delta Kappan, and my paper, “Did Reading First Work?,” posted on www.districtadministration.com/pulse.)
In addition, the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general recently issued a report on apparent conflicts of interest in the administration of Reading First grants. It detailed how certain reading methods and approaches were favored while others were shut out (“Scathing Report Casts Cloud Over ‘Reading First’,” Oct. 4, 2006).
According to your Nov. 15 article, the Bush administration now wants to expand the No Child Left Behind law’s requirements to high school, and there is even discussion of expanding them down to preschool. With all the talk about making schools and teachers accountable, why isn’t there any talk of making NCLB accountable?
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the December 06, 2006 edition of Education Week as Let Accountability Begin With the NCLB Law Itself