Rethinking No Child Left Behind

As I have travelled our nation's highways, I have frequently been witness to the debate that goes on about George Dubyah Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program.

I guess I am torn by this debate. It is hard to come down firmly on one side or the other, because both sides raise valid points.

Amongst the valid points of opponents of "No Child Left Behind" is that it is just another "unfunded mandate". It is full of "you must do's" without providing any money to do the doing. However I support that, at a minimum, a high school diploma should represent something.

So I suggest a compromise. We rescind "No Child Left Behind" for the most part and replace it with something that is optional for each state, or even each school district within a state, to adopt or turn their back on. There would be no threats of cutting off federal funding if this program is not adopted. It is my intention to make this proposal so attractive that, even though it does not come with any new funding, most states and school districts will willingly participate.

Now I like the "Standards of Learning" tests. These tests mean that a student meets a minimum level of knowledge once they reach certain milestones in their education. My suggestion is that we replace the whole "No Child Left Behind" thing with a battery of tests that only measure the level of knowledge of the student. I propose that each school district be offered the chance to include a "federal seal of approval" on the diplomas and certificates that they issue based upon the recipients being able to pass a federal "Standards of Learning" test appropriate for the grade level in question. To simplify things we can restrict these seals to two milestones within a students progression. Eighth grade level and High School diploma. The federal government could provide a battery of tests that each school district could choose to administer or not at their own expense. Additional tests could be made available for other grades, but the eighth grade and High School completion tests are the only ones, that after successful passing, would result in a "federal seal of approval" that witnesses to the fact that the education received by the student meets a minimum level of measurement.

Nothing in the education process would be mandated by the federal government. Each state and school district could decide on its own how to best yield a successful outcome for the student.

Nothing would tie the hands of state or local educators. The only thing that will be measured would be the outcome. Gone would be the days of meaningless high school diplomas where the recipients can not even read or write. Or at least these worthless "certificates of attendance" would not bear the federal seal. Gone also will be the days of legislators in Washington DC trying to micromanage what goes on in the classroom.

If members of the NEA think they know a better way to educate our kids, have at it. The only thing that will be measured is the outcome. Failure of the student to pass the test results in failure to issue the "seal of approval".

I feel my proposal successfully dispatches all reasonable objections to "No Child Left Behind" while maintaining the accountability of those who claim they best know how to educate our children.

By the way... home schoolers should also be held accountable to the same standards.


Post a Comment

<< Home