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No Child Left Behind, Really?

Updated on July 3, 2012
Many children in America are being left behind
Many children in America are being left behind | Source

The Truth about "No Child Left Behind"

“Teaching to the test, without teaching to the test!” The teachers I’ve worked alongside for the last year joke, rolling their eyes. I know they are full of doubt about where our public education system is headed. Numbers can be tweaked to mirage the success of programs like, “No Child Left Behind” but from the inner-walls of the classroom, it’s apparent something must change.

The Good

The Bush Administration put into place the “No Child Left Behind” policy with the goal of educating all children equally no mater their socioeconomic status or race. To do this, a test was created for all students to take at the same time each school year- in the month of April. This test requires all students be at the same ‘above average’ standard while maintaining yearly improvement. As the Bill is written, schools that fail to keep up will be sent through a number of hoops in order to regulate and insure the proper improvements are put into place, securing future pupil success.

The Bad

Unfortunately, just one year after this bill was instituted, Bush decreased the education budget by $75 billion. Since then, the budget has only decreased more. Schools pin-pointed as being ‘insufficient’ find that they are unable to increase student grades for a number of unaccounted factors. Mentally disabled students, for example, are tested and held accountable to the same standards as say, a GATE student. Also, although embarrassingly ignored, many of our US schools are so broke they lack necessary materials to teach with. The extremely high standards the Federal Government unconstitutionally demands are simply impossible to manage without resources. These resources are further deducted as sanctions for continuously low scores, making improvements the following year that much harder to come by.

Near test time, teachers are often in a near desperate state as they worry for their jobs and the longevity of the school they work at. In hopes of cheating the unbeatable system, many schools have taken dramatic risks- most of which have been caught and seriously reprimanded. When these incidents are publicized in the news they often criminalize the school- negligent in not telling the other side of the story; one that included a choice, be shut down completely or take a wild chance?

In recent years many schools have been closing their doors due to low performance year after year. Thus breeding a new epidemic: school-less children, or rather the calamities of a failed education system.

The Ugly

Before being shut down, schools that are unable to improve their test scores are reprimanded in ways that further alienate their resources, making it that much harder to meet standards once again the following year. Instead of addressing educational inequality, No Child Left Behind, has seemingly complicated and further expanded the issue. Instead of putting money into the schools that need it most, this Bill in practice deducts from the ‘have-nots.’ Schools with larger budgets and richer pupils are able to score much higher on the tests and are routinely rewarded for what money can buy.

Of course there are people who will argue that, “the rich deserve it! They are paying all of the tax dollars anyways.” And while that may look nice on a spreadsheet, we are not heartless humans. As a sociologist I know how poverty originates and I know that the inequality of our education system is largely to blame for its persistence. If we want America to sustain its powerhouse reputation we must educate all sects of our population, otherwise we are trending towards a mass of uneducated individuals that will weight our prisons and cash-out our already debit-ridden budget.


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    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 5 years ago from California

      No Child Left Behind was doomed to fail. Elementary students in countries that do well academically don't spend most of their day learning language arts and math. They learn a lot of geography, history and science as well. NCLB forces schools to teach mostly LA and math. So, kids aren't getting much in the way of a real education.

    • Becky Bruce profile image

      Becky Bruce 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Becky, first off- love your name ;) Secondly, what great points you highlight and using your own kids as the prime example! That's awesome you and your husband are able to supplement their education, for something that sounds much better. Curious question, how do you maintain their social skills with peers close in age?

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Many of the rich send their children to private schools. I took my daughter out of school and homeschool her now because I did not care for the way the school was teaching to the test. She is now at least two years ahead of kids her age. She was a year behind kids her age in other states and falling further because they were just teaching the test. No improvement in the school. She works at her own speed now and gets tutored if she has a problem. Mom and dad both have college degrees and know the work so we can teach it.