Just the Facts, Ma’am

Jay Mathews has discovered one of the big problems with understanding the No Child Left Behind legislation and the issues raised by it’s critics. Almost everyone, on both sides, is talking politics rather than education. While working on two stories about NCLB, Jay spoke to both educators and elected officials in the Washington area and found that "[m]ost of the discussion seemed to be about adults, and their political and ideological disputes, rather than kids."

To help him understand NCLB and it’s effects on students and the classroom, Jay wants to find some concrete examples.

A long time ago I figured out that I was never going to be intelligent enough to work out the rightness or wrongness of government policies by considering them in the abstract. I had to see precisely how they affected people before I could make up my mind. With the No Child Left Behind law bringing more change more rapidly to our schools than ever before, and adding much more money than ever, even if many educators say it is still not enough, I could use some real life stories to figure out what I should be thinking about this.

So I hope that educators and parents and even students reading this will help me. If you have witnessed the actual consequences of the new law in classrooms, tell me what you saw. Maybe when you look at these effects up close, they are bad. Maybe they are good. Just give me the facts. No dissertations on the need for accountability or the bankruptcy of top-down reform, please. I have heard that before. Just take me into a classroom and show me what is going on.

I agree, it’s time for a reality check on NCLB. If you have something Jay can use, his email address is listed in the "About the Author" section at the top of the article. I’ll be interested to see what people send him.