No Child Left Behind: Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'Political Discussions' started by Professor_Adam, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Professor_Adam

    Professor_Adam New Member

    From what I hear in the media this program sounds like a disaster. But I don't trust the media. What's the real story? I thought this program helped keep teachers accountable. What is all the hand-wringing about? Why is this program so unpopular with educators?
  2. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    If I recall correctly, most of the complaints about No Child Left Behind centered around the fact that it is essentially an unfunded mandate.
  3. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    OH ME... OH MY... Where to begin?

    First, I should say that No Child Left Behind is an admirable attempt at educational reform. Unfortunately, it just work. Of course we would love for all students to be successful. The problem is, however, that students are humans not machines. You cannot guarantee results for human behavior, which I believe is the crux of the problem with NCLB.

    There was a story going around amongst teachers about this guy whose company made the best blueberry ice cream. Supposedly this guy was all about school reform until a teacher asked him how he made his ice cream. He said he only used the best blueberries. When the teacher asked "What do you do with the bad blueberries?" he responded by saying he tossed them out and ONLY used the best ones. The teacher then said "well, we have to teach everyone, even the bad blueberries. We can't just throw them out." Supposedly the guy changed and it was a happy ending. You know how those types of stories work.

    The main problem I see is that the government is trying to shift from an equality of opportunity stance (which I think is great) to an equality of outcome stance (which I think is unrealistic). It's like we're trying to produce drones. From what I've seen, standards have been lowered so that as many people can pass as possible, and as a result, the average or above average kids are suffering. Furthermore, state assessment tests, in Virginia at least, are a joke. As a teacher, I feel like I have so much pressure on me to get these kids to memorize as much crap as possible so they can pass the tests. That's not how it was 10 years ago when I was still in high school. (And mind you, I teach at my alma mater.)

    There are other stipulations in NCLB that are just ridiculous. If a school fails to perform, its funding gets taken away. How is it supposed to succeed when you start taking money away? That's like saying if a football team loses a game, you take away their equipment until they win a game. How do they practice without equipment?

    My wife is a special education teacher. She was telling me that students who are severely disabled, such as brain trauma, still have to meet the same requirements as the regular students. When she taught in a prior school division, she said the "Severe and Profound" Special Education Teacher (the guy who taught kids like that) always got hassled from the school administration because his kids failed the state achievement standards. Explain to me how you get a kid with a severe brain trauma who is fed with a tube down his throat who can't even remember his name to pass a state achievement test which requires him to recall random facts about history, biology, or whatever. It's absurd.

    I understand that politicians want to improve education. The problem is, they're a bunch of ignorant people who know nothing about education, yet they make policies that govern us. Politicians and others compare American education to that of other countries. The problem with that is simple. We are NOT other countries. Some countries truly value education. Their citizens foster of love of education in their children. We don't have that here. We have people who think school is a waste of time, and yet we require them to attend. Education is supposed to be about preparing people for their future. We don't do that. I read somewhere that in Germany, students are sorted around grade 3 or 4 and some are put into a track bound for college, while others are put onto a vocational track. Essentially, if that is the case, they are preparing the students for their future based upon their abilities. If we taught skill based courses, like classes in plumbing or electrical, those students might enjoy that better than classes in history. (Don't get me wrong. I love teaching history, but I clearly recognize it's not for everyone.)

    Again, having a public education system is a wonderful idea. It's just unfortunate that we are trying to pump out drones with diplomas rather than educating those who truly wish to be educated. That's just my opinion.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2009
  4. Professor_Adam

    Professor_Adam New Member

    Wow, that makes a lot of sense. I'm left wondering how this legislation managed to make its way through Congress in the first place. I wonder how Obama might do things differently, if at all.
  5. bamafan

    bamafan New Member

    This law made its way through Congress during a time it was deemed anti-American or anti-patriotic to question anything the Bush Administration wanted. Thats how it got through Congress.
  6. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    LOL when was that again?
  7. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    The climate was set for a lot of "Anti-Americanism" tactics. If you disagreed with the Pres, you were un-American, immoral, and unpatriotic. His minions were militantly lock step, and it they were not, their arms were twisted until they voted the "right way" (ex. medicare bill). Bad close minded times. Thank God that kind of ignorant, small thinking mind set will be replaced very soon.

  8. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    the bill was passed in Jan 2001 and signed into office in 2002. In Jan 2001 we still hadn't been attacked so the patriotism angle doesn't work. In addition it was a bipartisan act.

    "The Act, introduced as HR 1 during the 107th Congress, [3] was passed in the House of Representatives on May 23, 2001[4], United States Senate on June 14, 2001[5] and signed into law on January 8, 2002."

    NCLB isn't new:

    "No Child Left Behind is the current incarnation of one of the principal pillars of Pres. Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which created the Title I federal aid program aimed at reducing achievement gaps between rich and poor and among the races."

    However, I have to agree with most of this assessment (same source):

    "Every few years, the law has been amended and reauthorized. No Child Left Behind is the name given to the reauthorization passed in 2001 and signed in January, 2002. But NCLB links its federal dollars to draconian penalties for schools that can not meet a series of one-size-fits-all standards. These penalties especially hurt schools that take on the greatest educational challenges."

    It is really sad that we allow personal politics to interfere with facts and issues.
  9. Professor_Adam

    Professor_Adam New Member

    I'm confused here. You're suggesting Obama's crew is open minded and tolerant? Please explain to me why his own party and the media (a subculture of the DNC) were in a huge uproar over a certain Christian pastor giving prayer at the inaugural ceremonies.

    Is this the kind of "open-minded" stuff I'm supposed to be happy about? Meanwhile in the news today it came out that a muslim leader with direct times to Hamas will be speaking at the inaugural too. Just for fun I watched the news (the same newscasts that villified Pastor Rick Warren) and surprise, surprise no mention of this terrorist sympathizer, no uproar from liberals. Hmmmm. What's an objective person supposed to make of this? Seems that they are tolerant of other liberals and terrorists but intolerant of Christians and conservatives.
  10. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    Yes, it's true that NCLB isn't new. It's the ESEA on steroids. You know, the kind of steroids that kill you.

  11. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    Well I think its horrible. Now I get the whole testing of children and trying to get a sense for their advancement but there is a simple overall problem. Whichever standard you pick some students are doomed to fail it. For example if you have 100 students of the typical range of academic skills 25% will pass easily, 25% will never be able to meet it and the rest will fall towards the center. And worse it misses skills other than the academic ones what about various physical motor skills, social skills and ones work ethics which in many trades and areas of work are very important?

    I would rather see intensive testing in many area every four grades 4th, 8th at least and then track the students path to fit their aptitudes that could be something other than college. In fact college should be only ,for the bachelors degree, geared for the best 20% of the students in High School who can benefit. That is what other countries do in most cases tracking students.

    NCLB is a mandate, clumbsy and frankly a violation of states rights there is nothing in the Constitution granting the Federal Government any say over Education save schools they run directly (implied). There is no need for it and in fact it hurts the practical approaches to education and our children.
  12. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    Without federal intervention you would still have separate but equal.
  13. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    I am you have school age children? Aptitudes? Tracking? Doomed to fail basic standards? I can't even begin to say on how many levels I disagree with your educational "philosophy about improvement.
  14. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

  15. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    It was a statistical statement. Regardless of what standard you pick, half will be above average and half will be below average. You're never going to change that. Pure and simple.
  16. buckwheat3

    buckwheat3 Master of the Obvious

    Most teachers I know hate it, or at the minimum see it as a joke.
    It not mistaken, it was a federal mandate but without the funding.
  17. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    You find out what children are good at and then decide what their educational path should be and that is not ,to be blunt, not likely a four year degree. And I have two children one in high school and one working after studying Massage Therapy, she was an average student with exceptional social skills. I was supposed to encourage her to go to college when it was likely not going to be of any benefit at least for a bachelors degree.

    And I stated the simple logic lets say the High School standard to path the FCAT the state test in Florida is Algebra II or a full year as the ideal. My daughter never did at all well in methematics not for lack of trying she just could always do basic function math addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages and rounding numbers she was fine at. Geometry she almost failed and algebra tried for one semester with tutoring and couldn't do that at all. So she would not have passed that part of the test.

    Its simple skill ranged if NCLB sets a standard some students will fail that standard and not graduate, its common sense.

    When I meant track student I meant find out what skills they have, aptitudes they demonstrate that are good for certain paths and then steer them that way in High School. You have ,in general all advanced degrees, how can you understand the plight of we who for lack of aptitudes can't do bachelors level work? My other child ,my son, is mentally retarded and a good boy and hard working, good natured but I fear for him any job he will get will likely be modest as will his ability to succeed in school. He wants to be a teacher how do I tell him hes not smart enough it eats me up, because he has this message college is success. And shall I add to that all the good jobs he could have done years ago are going away. No factory line work or hands-on labor for him that could let him earn a good living. What about him I would rather he learn to be a good employee, learn a skill in High School that he could use to get a job that matters than worry about all this academic testing. Especially when again it ignores social skills, work ethics and work habits, manual skills and others that are also important to work after secondary school.

    The system does nothing for my children that the government set-up under NCLB. As for Federal involvement granted they had to end Jim Crow and desegregate schools where then do they get the right to dictate to states how to run schools beyond Constitutional fairness?

    I'm sorry but you are the one who has no clue what worked for all of you likely the better students in your educational systems and who have clear aptitudes for various academic subjects, hurts many others. You may be the top 25% of the population or higher in academic skills what about the bottom 50% of high school students in achievement, what about them? Assessment testing is wonderful and I'm all for it if its used to assist each student to be successful and employed later when they graduate secondary school or for our best students go on to earn a bachelors degree or higher.
  18. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck

    many years ago I attended a school that did in fact have a college prep track versus other options, including the then novel idea of an open school where kids hardly attended class. I don't believe we could ever implement a system as you describe because it limits children who would be great college students but grew up in a substandard environment. A little exposure to higher learning benefits many who come from modest or worse means. We cannot go back due to current laws. In direct response to your question the government gets the right when our elected officials sign laws and acts. The only mechanism we have to change this is our vote. Elect a candidate who can carry your view and hold them to task. It has become apparent to me that more folks want the NCLB than those that don't. Do you want to guess who those folks might be?

    By the way, I don't disagee entirely with your premise, only that in today's society we have different laws, regulations, and certainly special interest groups which do not make failure an option, even to the detriment of the child.

    As to your handicapped son. Please explore the government as an option. There are many jobs for those with disabilities and programs available for them:

    There is more to being a teacher than being "smart". You might find that your son has the aptitude to teach others who are handicapped and there may be programs for his talents. Even if only in a volunteer capacity.
  19. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    I have three teachers in my family, 2 republicans and 1 dem. Their professional assessement of NLCB is this "It sucks!". Why? For the reasons listed below:

    *classroom overcrowding
    *test review only - no freestyle teaching anymore
    *no more special needs specialized teaching, which creates havoc in
    the classroom.

    It is time to end NLCB as we know it. A phantom program that was never funded. Nothing beneficial at all. Ask any public school teacher.

    As far as the manufacturing jobs that have left the country, you are absolutely correct. The have been vanishing for quite a while now. Part of my job as a Government liason is interacting with the DOL. Under this Administration, the description of manufacturing was altered to include people that make hamburgers at Burger King. Why? To make it appear we have had more manufacturing jobs here than we really do. Sad. The amount of lay offs and company closures is alarming. I am covering areas of "ghost towns", whole blocks of once thriving businesses that are closing. As a parent, you are right to be concerned with the future of your child. I commend you for thinking ahead. Some will say I am merely engaging in personal politics. That is fine. But the fact is, we need to have and create more manufacturing jobs that stay here in America. Not everyone will have a degree and work in an office. Many good people need to do assembly work, good people like your son.

    Sorry to go off course. Lately my work has not been uplifting. Despite that, my goal is to try and get workers retrained, and keep them motivated. I have no one to keep me motivated. In fact, my employer wants to take 2 days pay away from me (per month). That is ok, I am not complaining. I am just happy to be working under these conditions.

    Your a good father Thomas,

  20. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    Oops! No coffe yet. I meant to sign off with you're a good father, not your.


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