Opinion
Federal Letter to the Editor

Question on NCLB: To Kill or Not to Kill?

July 14, 2009 3 min read

To the Editor:

Diane Ravitch’s viewpoint in her Commentary “Time to Kill ‘No Child Left Behind’” (June 10, 2009) is about what I would expect. In the decade or so I have been in education and following her opinions, she frequently has expressed resistance to change.

In reading her latest diatribe, I am left with unanswered questions. If math and reading results have been so dismal despite the No Child Left Behind Act and the “reduced attention to such non-tested subjects as science, history, civics, the arts, and geography,” what would the results have been without such a limited focus? Stated otherwise, if educators cannot increase children’s performance with a narrow academic focus, why would performance improve after expanding the focus to other disciplines?

As a person who has successfully served (albeit on a small scale) children receiving supplemental educational services, I also question Ms. Ravitch’s assertion that tutored students derive no benefit from the extra assistance. Rather than a passing reference to “some studies,” information on which studies show this finding would have been a responsible inclusion.

Finally, what does work in raising achievement? We do not need another tearing down without alternatives for building up. Surely there are “some studies” showing that alternative schools or methods (the Knowledge Is Power Program springs to mind) have succeeded. I do realize that a Commentary is a very limited discussion of an issue, but again, another denunciation is of little help.

Margaret Case

St. Augustine, Fla.

To the Editor:

Having read “Let’s Not ‘Kill Off’ NCLB” (June 11, 2009), B. Alexander Kress’ online response to Diane Ravitch, I remain baffled by his claim that the No Child Left Behind Act is working. Although NCLB has helped draw much-needed attention to the achievement gap and highlighted certain underserved student populations, a point Mr. Kress underscores with a litany of statistics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the legislation’s usefulness ends there.

The fallacy of NCLB is that it fails to support schools—and the education professionals that lead them—in even beginning to correctly address the “problems” it identifies. Although the American Federation of School Administrators agrees with the goals of the law, we find the means to achieve those goals fundamentally flawed.

What is the use of citing gains in student achievement when those gains are measured by a broken instrument? Instead, what if we were to begin anew, with the federal government bringing together practitioners and academics on a regional basis to determine what it is that children-turned-adults will need to know and be equipped to perform over the next decade?

And what about developing similar “frameworks” for education professionals in addition to teachers? In a recent address to the Education Writers Association, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said: “Chaos outside the classroom breeds chaos in the classroom. Lack of cooperation among faculty is a failure of leadership. There are no good schools without good principals.” We have to ensure that someone selected from a pool of certified principals matches the needs of the hiring school.

It is time to scrap No Child Left Behind and start over with the accumulated body of knowledge it has provided. President Barack Obama has recognized that education begins at birth. Young children, eager to learn, who are educationally malnourished and deprived of the opportunities that this country has to offer will have a more difficult, if not impossible, challenge of successfully meeting their future. In order to move forward, we must first leave NCLB behind.

Jill S. Levy

President

American Federation of School Administrators

Washington, D.C.

A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 2009 edition of Education Week as Question on NCLB: To Kill or Not to Kill?

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
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.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

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

Federal Republicans Want Federal Funding Cuts to Schools Using '1619 Project'—But There's a Twist
A bill from U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton, Mitch McConnell, and others targets schools using lessons based on the New York Times Magazine series.
4 min read
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill.
Evelyn Hockstein/AP
Federal What's at Stake in a Review of Federal Sex Discrimination Protections for Students
The Biden administration's review of Title IX may prompt new guidance on how schools deal with sexual harassment and protect LGBTQ students.
10 min read
Image of gender symbols drawn in chalk.
joxxxxjo/iStock/Getty
Federal Opinion Education Outlets Owe Readers More Than the Narratives They Want to Hear
It's vital that serious news organizations challenge runaway narratives and help readers avoid going down ideological rabbit holes.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal As GOP Leaves K-12 Out of Its Infrastructure Plan, Advocates Look For Alternatives
The GOP is proposing $1 trillion in federal dollars for the nation's infrastructure, but school buildings aren't part of their proposal.
6 min read
A trash can and pink kiddie pool are used to collect water that leaks from the roof into the media center at Green County High School in Snow Hill, N.C..
A trash can and pink kiddie pool are used to collect water that leaks from the roof into the media center at Green County High School in Snow Hill, N.C.
Alex Boerner for Education Week