We Need Harsher Penalities

It really says something about how much of a failure NCLB really is when a right-wing mouth piece like the Wall Street Journal is highly critical of the law.

Of course, their complaints are that the penalties are not harsh enough (as opposed to concerns that the concepts on which the bill is based are educationally unfounded).

But when it comes to the worst-performing schools, the 2001 law hasn’t shown much bite. The more-radical restructuring remedies put forth by the law have rarely been adopted by these schools, many of which aren’t doing much to address their problems, according to a federal study last year.

Those that miss the mark for six consecutive years are subject to mandatory restructuring, supposedly the harshest sanction. Under the law, schools can choose a variety of restructuring measures including submitting to a state takeover or replacing teachers. Or they can make some unspecified “other” major change in school governance.

The writer goes on to discuss how too few schools are undergoing restructuring while many of those in the process are doing too little to correct their problems.

I’m certainly not going to argue that there are many schools in need of some drastic alterations.

However, not the kind of change required in NCLB and the restructuring this article praises.

Firing the principal, replacing the staff, tinkering with the curriculum, does nothing more than leave in place an educational structure dedicated to getting kids to pass standardized tests.

Nothing in this law, or the complaints of the Journal, addresses the very real need to help students understand how to process, manage, create, and use information. How to learn and relearn throughout their lives.

And that’s going to take far more restructuring of the American education system than was envisioned by the creators of NCLB.