Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Approaching | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends March 1. Register today.
Education Letter to the Editor

Pursuit of Excellence Is No Longer a Priority

May 22, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

“Why can’t we replicate excellence?” asked former President Bill Clinton at the recent National School Boards Association’s annual convention in San Francisco. “If I were dictator, I would get with you and make some changes in that Leave No Child Behind Act” (“Clinton Criticizes Testing Required by NCLB,” April 25, 2007).

How I would love to enlighten Mr. Clinton. Education-based businesses focus on experimentation, and the No Child Left Behind Act focuses on remediation; the pursuit of excellence is no longer a priority in our public schools.

Math education is a good example. I was in the midst of the “math wars” during my career as an algebra teacher. I watched best practices veer from carefully sequenced, content-rich directed learning to fuzzy, discovery-group learning. Where once students memorized the number connections that facilitated problem-solving, reforms brought calculators and manipulatives. For a while, California and other states abandoned traditional pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry courses and favored integrated math.

Behind the experimentation was an emphasis on helping struggling students while enriching the publishers of ever-newer and revised learning materials. The No Child Left Behind law worsened the situation by punishing schools whose lower-achieving students failed to achieve proficiency. No extra credit went to schools whose strong students excelled in advanced-level courses or on college-admissions tests. As schools faced shrinking resources and rising demands to raise test scores, the pursuit of excellence was often sacrificed.

Your May 2, 2007, issue’s front page carries the headline “Math-Science Bills Advance in Congress,” with its subhead reading “Separate Measures Are Aimed at Boosting Competitiveness,” referring to America’s standing in the global economy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if teachers and students were properly funded and free to pursue excellence using methods proved effective over past decades?

Betty Raskoff Kazmin

Medford, Ore.

A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2007 edition of Education Week as Pursuit of Excellence Is No Longer a Priority


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 31, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education In Their Own Words The Stories That Stuck With Us, 2023 Edition
Our newsroom selected five stories as among the highlights of our work. Here's why.
4 min read
102523 IMSE Reading BS
Adria Malcolm for Education Week