To the Editor:
The No Child Left Behind Act comes up for renewal in 2007. If it is reauthorized, virtually all of the country’s public schools will be labeled as failing by 2014, and many will be closed or privatized.
Educators need to launch a campaign to save our schools from this legislation. We should focus on these major issues:
• The administration of the law and of the Reading First program, as reported by the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general. Congress and the U.S. attorney general should hold immediate hearings, as proposed by U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who will become chairman of the House education committee.
• The imposition by the Education Department of absurd reading and math curricula, methods, tests, and texts through the process of state- and district-proposal review. States and school districts should be freed from these.
• The failings of U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and her predecessor, Rod Paige, in the administration of the law and Reading First. Ms. Spellings needs to be called before Congress to respond to the inspector general’s investigation.
• Any role played by former White House aide Sandy Kress, an author of the federal law and now a chief education lobbyist for national business groups, in getting certain tests and text programs labeled “scientifically based reading research” and pushed into schools.
• The unfairness in how the law treats students with disabilities and second-language learners and how that unfairness dooms successful schools to being labeled as “in need of improvement.”
• The narrowing of the curriculum, even as early as preschool, to preparation for inappropriate and badly constructed tests, and the use of those tests to make life decisions for pupils at all levels.
• The use of criteria for labeling teachers as not highly qualified, and the effects this labeling is having on middle schools and rural secondary schools.
• The absurdity of specific methods and materials for the teaching of reading and mathematics that are being forced into schools, and their effects on learners.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act must be stopped.
Kenneth S. Goodman
Department of Language, Reading, and Culture
College of Education
University of Arizona
A version of this article appeared in the December 06, 2006 edition of Education Week as No Child Left Behind Law ‘Must Be Stopped’