There were a couple of stories this past week about our favorite train wreck of a law No Child Left Behind.
One writer speculated on the political implications for W’s re-election campaign of the rising tide of dissent over NCLB. Although the Department of Education has been furiously tweaking the provisions of the law to reduce the numbers of "failing" schools (at least until after November), the criticism of the law’s costs and penalties has been growing on both sides of the political aisle.
I doubt NCLB will be much of an issue while the war in Iraq and the economy, especially jobs and gas prices, keep getting in the way. Politicians, the news media and the general public talk a good game about supporting education but just about any other issue will push it off the A list of issues.
In his weekly online education column, Jay Mathews looks at an article from the American Association of School Boards about fighting the "failure" label that comes with NCLB. The writer, the president of a local company that helps school districts with their PR, is quite right that the concept of NCLB is a good one, indeed it’s the one that all educators should have.
Of course we should be doing everything to help every student learn. However, NCLB, with it’s one-size-fits-all approach and lack of adequate funding, is the wrong way to do it. The law may not use the word "failing" to describe a school that "needs improvement" but that’s the word the news media use, following the lead of W and his friends, so that’s the way the public sees it.