The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 created well intentioned educational standards for our schools, but nine years later it has largely failed to accomplish the desired results. Whether you agree with the No Child Left Behind legislation or not, one definite merit of the legislation is that it provides a uniform benchmark allowing us to compare school performance across the nation.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says 82 percent of all schools in the United States will receive the designation “failing” by 2014 under the law’s current proficiency targets. Almost 10 years after passing the act, schools have made relatively little progress in reading and in math. President Barack Obama , on the other hand, is skeptical of the high failure rate saying that some of the schools on the list are making vast improvements and are thriving.
Even if the failure rate is slightly inflated, the inability of 82 percent of our schools to measure up is quite frankly pathetic, for lack of a better word. It would still be unacceptable if even 50 percent of the nation’s schools received this designation. So what’s the solution to our educational woes? Do we “reform” the legislation by lowering our standards and ignoring problems so we can say we are successful? When a marksman can’t hit his target, is the bull’s eye enlarged? No.
Our public education system is broken. No matter how you slice it or dice it, the fundamental reality is that many kids aren’t learning and lack the basic knowledge necessary to compete in a global economy.
President Obama says, “It’s not enough to leave no child left behind. We need to help every child get ahead.” Clearly, this is more easily said than done, especially when monetary resources are scarce. The best way to improve our schools is to get the unions out and have the federal government step aside so local government leaders, administrators, teachers, and parents can decide how to best educate their students given their needs and constraints. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Education should be left primarily to the states – our laboratories of democracy – where local leaders have the freedom to pursue the policies needed to ensure all students receive a quality education.