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Tuesday Talk: What should replace NCLB?

June 14, 2011 By Rachel Weeks, Communications Specialist

The inadequacies of No Child Left Behind have been apparent from the beginning. New proposals from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to waive proficiency requirements indicate the administration's intention to bring NCLB to an end.

With a failed NCLB coming to a close, what education policies should replace it? 

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  • Claire says:

    June 14, 2011 at 8:06 am

    First Try adequate funding, 
    Second designing curriculum based on what the experts say works and
    third involve the community and parents in a meaningful way

  • Mary Jane LaVigne says:

    June 14, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Educate people to be citizens.  We teach consumer science but not civics.  We need to spend at least as much time on the Bill of Rights as we do on techniques for comparison shopping. 

    On a light rail ride from the airport this winter, a mother with three children - two in a stroller - was caught by security without a ticket. The Transit Police officer asked for her ID, which she couldn’t, or wouldn’t produce.  I listened to him tell her it was illegal for her to be out in public without a valid ID. “It is not!” I’m proud to say I told him.

    No one who made it through to Ramsey Junior High in the 1970s had any doubt that people had rights. It was a mix of students, racially and economically.  The academics were some times lame, but boy did we get an education in civics and how to push change.

    Let’s get back to educating people to lead powerful lives, not just become powerful earners.

  • Connie says:

    June 14, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I totally agree with Claire.  Funding is vital, but so is parent involvement especially from early on.  I have taught in both the main stream schools and an alternative settings; we need to realize that not every student is college bound.  The tests that are required only measure what a student remembers at that given time.  Rote memorization isn’t what education is about - we need to find ways for students to demonstrate that they can apply what they have learned to everyday life.  The questions on the writing test are often idealistic.  Many of our students today are more worried about where their next meal will come from or where they will be sleeping tonight.  Wouldn’t things like writing a letter of request or complaint, writing a resume or filling out a job application be more timely?  Students are over tested!  We need to find other methods of measuring skills.  Student achievements shouldn’t be put totally on the teachers - teachers only spend approximately 6 1/2 hours a day with students, what about the other 17 1/2 hours?

  • John Crampton says:

    June 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

    First of all, let’s be clear about the reasons behind NCLB in the first place….. it was all about privitization of the public schools, busting the teacher’s union, putting money in Jeb Bush’s buddies’ pocket, Sylvan Learning, Kaplan etc.  It was intended to allow states like Texas water down the tests rather than having to put real money in to improve their schools.  If we really want to fix our schools, here’s what we should do:

    - Make free/affordable pre-school education universally available. 

    - Extend the school year to the same number of days (220-230) and hours (8) as every other serious developed or developing country in the world—- no 12 week summer vacations. 

    - Less reliance on tests that are meaningless to the students.  Right now there are no consequences for U.S. students to do well or to bomb the tests that NCLB is based on, and so most of them correctly think that it’s a joke.  Let’s start measuring student performance on how they do on tests like NAEP, ACT or tests that determine who goes into the college track and who goes into the technical school track. 

    - Let’s not water down our teacher entrance requirements so that people who may have subject matter knowledge but don’t know how to teach or interact with today’s students are ever allowed into the classroom.

    Good teaching is actually a valuable skill that should be nurtured and rewarded rather than disparaged and continually attacked by stupid politicians, Christian Nazis, and vicious corporate interests.


  • geothermaljones says:

    June 14, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Last spring when a student brought a gun to school in Ricorri, I found it suspicious the school had no lock down or any other such response, though they were unable to contact the staff security officer.
    The idea that testing had already started, packets were open & seen by students, and stopping the test midstream would cause a major financial burden was eschewed by the administration saying all was in hand & there was no threat to others.
    Had it been any day other than NCLB testing day, would it have been handled differently?

  • Sandi Karnowski says:

    June 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I could not agree more with John’s comments.  We need to provide for early childhood education for all, not just those who can afford it.  As a speech-language pathologist I see kids who come to school unprepared to learn to read.  They don’t know their alphabet, or how to rhyme, or have a very large vocabulary.  These skills, if not taught by parents at home, need to be taught in early childhood centers.  If students do not have a lexicon of words they will not be able to keep up with their peers who come with these skills.  Kids start falling behind in kindergarten and it spirals through their school careers.  This is not the teacher’s fault who gets them at 5 years of age.

    As to NCLB law, every school will eventually fail, which is the Republican game plan to then be able to privatize schools and send kids to expensive rehab centers such as Sylvan.  These Republicans have planned well.  They want to privatize everything and blame it on the unions.

  • Yi Li You says:

    June 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Students should have a test to show what are their level are. If students have no annual test to take, then there are no guideline to see how they are doing.
      Hence I support MCA test should be given to every grade of students from first grade to 12th grade. Kindergarten kids can be waived, since they are too young.

      Of course, “bad performing schools” should not get punished, instead they need more resources to help those students who lag behind. e.g. set up summer school, before or after-school programs. For those programs, schools don’t need to spend money on food and T-shirts. Just to focus on academic works.

      we see: in many summer programs, kids are given T-shirt. That money can be saved under current economic situation.
    Students should be responsible for their own breakfast. Otherwise we make those lazy, irresponsible parents to be more irresponsible and lazy.
      Spend money on academic books, like: each student who are in program get a textbook to bring home or ask them to pay a affordable cost, e.g. $5 to $10.
      So these students can study them at home also.

  • Andy Patnode says:

    June 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Tests will need to show advancement from year to year. Yes, teachers, too many parents are not involved in their child’s learning, are abusive, are addicts, give poor home life & so on. That’s not going to change. So what are you, we, going to do about it? Give up on them because it’s to hard, they can’t be taught like we’ve been doing. Or will we, you, find work around’s to get them to learn in spite if these handicaps. There are successes out there that can be learned from, the Jesuit school in Mpls. Kipp charter schools to name a couple.  Continuing doing what is failing these children is unacceptable. And please quit saying more money will solve the problem. Money is not the main problem, thinking up new ideas is.


  • Rob Hardy says:

    June 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    One of the major flaws in the NCLB is the emphasis on high-stakes testing (such as the MCAs) rather than on authentic assessment, which provides a contextualized assessment of student learning. NCLB treats students as standardized products, reducible to a number, rather than as dynamic individuals interacting with shifting environments.  Portfolios, performances, and other authentic assessments seem to me to be better gauges of how students will perform in “real world” situations that require creativity and adaptability.

    Another flaw is the refusal to recognize that the “failure” of many schools that fail to meet AYP is due not to poor teaching or low standards, but to socio-economic conditions in the community which the school is generally powerless to change.  A student will probably not do well on the MCA if s/he spent the previous night sleeping in a dumpster, or if s/he routinely has to deal with poverty, racism, and violence. But, perversely, NCLB takes money away from “failing” schools that serve these at-risk communities, rather than investing in their improvement or the improvement of their communities.

    Whatever replaces NCLB should recognize that strong communities, in which parents and teachers and students are collaborators in the educational process, are more important than one-off tests.  Relationships, trust, and a shared enthusiasm for learning will do much more good than an impersonal regimen of standardized testing.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    June 15, 2011 at 5:46 am

    What we have now is the most racially and economically biased education system in Minnesota’s public education history. It is not about testing or money, it is about control. Only by returning to the child centered, locally controled, competative education system we scrapped for this Federally controlled top down socialist garbage will we ever see improvement. That means putting administration and employees back under the control of local citizens, eliminating the unions that undermine education as Wisconsin has, and concentrating on academics not sports. The system needs to be run by locals, for children, not this “School to Work” garbage we presently have.

  • Pat Hagerty says:

    June 15, 2011 at 7:14 am

    I would suggest the following:

    1.  Make preschool available to all (studies show that they are the best buy in education.)
    2.  Have readiness tests for kindergarten (once the norm, now almost nonexistent.)
    3.  Establish a uniform federal curriculum (currently each state reinvents curriculum, at tremendous cost.)
    4.  Test once a year, using federal tests developed from the curriculum.
    5.  Make remedial summer classes available to all (address problems immediately rather than wait for the next year.)
    6.  Invest in education.  The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” is as true in education as in any other situation.  The fact that Mississippi ranks last in school achievement is clearly correlated with the fact that it ranks last in school funding.)