Federal File

The Media and NCLB

Magazines, TV news offer grades, suggestions for school law.

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The Fourth Estate is weighing in on the No Child Left Behind Act.

Time magazine delivered a “Report Card on No Child Left Behind” cover story that gives the federal school law an overall grade of C.

“The landmark law has reshaped public education, exposed failing schools, and made them accountable,” the magazine says in its June 4 issue. “It’s also flawed.”

Time said the law’s greatest achievement has been to spotlight schools that have neglected poor and minority students. But its remedies for chronically poor schools are not working, garnering an F grade.

Among the magazine’s recommendations: Create incentives for the states to embrace a “gold standard” national assessment and rework funding formulas so schools in poor neighborhoods can afford to hire the most experienced teachers.

The NCLB law also got cover treatment in the liberal journal The Nation, where in the May 21 issue contributor Linda Darling-Hammond said the measure’s “noble agenda” of focusing on neglected student subgroups and recognizing students’ right to well-qualified teachers “has nearly been lost in the law’s problematic details.”

Ms. Darling-Hammond, an education professor at Stanford University, calls for dropping adequate yearly progress on test scores in favor of judging schools based on whether students make progress on multiple measures of achievement. She also repeats her call for a “Marshall Plan for Teaching” that would, among other measures, recruit teachers in high-need fields with service scholarships. ("A Marshall Plan for Teaching," Jan. 10, 2007.)

Meanwhile, ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week offered an analysis that it said was based on a months-long examination of whether the law was working. While the NCLB act has been a “punching bag” to a wide range of critics, reporter Claire Shipman said viewers may be surprised to learn that “it’s working in a lot of places.”

ABC handed out grades: an A-minus for testing students, C’s for states’ standards and the handling of special-needs students, and a D for “rescue plans” for troubled schools.

“Mixed grades,” anchorwoman Diane Sawyer said as the May 28 report concluded.

“But mostly passing,” said her co-anchor, Chris Cuomo.

CBS News will offer special reports on the NCLB law later this month. In conjunction with Time, the “CBS Evening News” is scheduled to report on the law’s progress on May 26 and 30.

See Also
For more stories on this topic see No Child Left Behind and our Federal news page.
For background, previous stories, and Web links, read No Child Left Behind.

Vol. 26, Issue 39, Page 18

Published in Print: June 6, 2007, as The Media and NCLB

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