The Beacon Bolt is a publication of the student body of Northwest Christian University.
No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 was George W. Bush’s signature education initiative, a national effort to create standards-based education, setting high standards and establishing measurable goals to improve individual support. The Act required states to develop assessments in basic skills and in order to receive federal school funding, states must give said assessments to all students in certain grades. Individually states were to develop their own standards, but instead of student improvement in the last fourteen years we have only seen waivers. Waivers that give states more time to evaluate and create more plans, in the meantime affecting the youth of America and ignoring the guidelines and goals set previously in 2001.
Many people may wonder why such a topic even interests me, but you may have guessed that I’m an education major. Even if you’re not, you should still care because the education of the generations below us will be our future one day. The Huffington post published an article on December 2nd announcing that the House voted to, “…sharply scale back the federal role in American education. But the bill would retain the testing requirement in the 2002 No Child Left Behind law that many parents, teachers and school districts abhor. The legislation, approved 359-64, would return to the states the decision-making power over how to use students’ test performance in assessing teachers and schools. The measure also would end federal efforts to encourage academic standards such as Common Core.”
The thousand plus page measure was reviewed by the senate who voted 85-12 to restore authority of school performance and accountability to local districts and states, instead of the federal government. Pre-existing annual testing requirements in reading and math are still required, so that states act to improve the lowest performing schools. The largest benefit of this rewrite is that it gives more local control to set goals, determine school ratings and decide remedial measures. The senate believes that it will give the education system a sense of excitement and innovation about student achievement, something we haven’t seen nationally in quite some time.
A well-known education historian wrote an article for Education Week in 2009 saying, “During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama hinted at sweeping changes in the No Child Left Behind law. He promised that teachers would no longer be ‘forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests.’ He recognized that subjects like history and the arts had been pushed aside, and that children were not getting a well-rounded education. He pledged to fix the accountability system ‘so that we are supporting schools that need improvement’ instead of punishing them.” She addressed NCLB’s remedies for failing students, school choice and tutoring. Both have been a bust, fewer than 5 percent of eligible students choose to leave their schools, and sometimes those who leave are the ones who are doing well, not the ones who are failing. In districts where there is only one school, school choice is meaningless. Although sometimes in urban districts, there is no better school that is accessible.
President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act earlier today — the product of a conference committee of the House and Senate that passed easily in the House last week with bipartisan backing. His signature marks the biggest rewrite in education laws in over twenty-five years. Even if you aren’t extremely interested in the field of education, it will be interesting to see the changes and influences that hopefully emerge from this rewrite that will improve not only the state of Oregon, but our nation.