Education Letter to the Editor

NCLB, Accountability, and Bilingual Education

April 12, 2005 1 min read

To the Editor:

Your informative article on No Child Left Behind Act data for English-learners (“Federal Data Show Gains on Language,” March 23, 2005) offers many useful insights. But James Crawford’s biased criticism of the law’s “dysfunctional system of accountability” lacked perspective.

Mr. Crawford, the former head of Bilingual Educators for Kerry, fails to note that as a direct result of the federal No Child Left Behind law, many states have established standards and are tracking the progress of English-language learners toward English fluency for the first time.

Under the old federal Bilingual Education Act, which the No Child Left Behind Act replaced, federally funded bilingual programs were not required to demonstrate any progress in teaching children English fluency. In fact, some of these programs failed to demonstrate any measurable progress toward English fluency by any children.

Clearly, there is much work to be done to meet the No Child Left Behind legislation’s ambitious goals. But scrapping the accountability system, as Mr. Crawford suggests, would be a terrible idea.

Don Soifer

Executive Vice President

Lexington Institute

Arlington, Va.