Understanding the NCLB and the ‘never enough’ syndrome

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been a favorite target of scorn by Teacher Unions and political partisans. D-Ed Reckoning provides Some Clarity on NCLB in citing a judge’s decision.

The excerpted quote, however, is a clearly written analysis of NCLB and the basic bargain it made with the states: federal funds for achieveing progress along with substantial flexibility for achiving and defining that progress. … In broad brush strokes, the Act thus allocates substantial federal funds to the States and school districts and gives them substantial flexibility in deciding how and where to spend the money on various educational “inputs,” but in return the schools must achieve progress in meeting certain educational “outputs” as measured by the Act’s testing benchmarks.

But. for some, the flexibility in both how the federal money is to be spent and in how to establish accountability for the effectiveness of that money is not enough. That is the ‘never enough’ syndrome.

The key here is a basic capitalistic philosophy: capital follows success. The complaint about NCLB is that capital is wanted with or without success. A fundamental concern many have about public education is that the plea for more money has, over decades, resulted in significant per pupil expenditures but there has been no improvement in what it is that the money was provided to achieve. Every time the schools are asked to improve the education for their students the response is that more money is needed to do it. More money has been provided yet the lack of education problem remains. NCLB was an attempt to address this. The opposition to the NCLB is an opposition to a change.

The education problem is a tough one. It should be rather obvious that expense per student is not a solution. There are glimmers of more effective solutions such as Charter schools. Change is hard, though, especially when it requires new ways of thinking and new directions. That is the basis of the NCLB discord.

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