Since its inception, educators have said ‘No Child Left Behind’ – the federal educational program begun in 2002 – isn’t working and will never work. It was extremely criticized for being created by non-educators in the political world who apparently didn’t know much about what would improve education throughout the United States. Regardless of what one thinks of President Barack Obama and his policies, he is being praised by persons who support either side of the political aisle on Thursday for having signed an education bill that will replace ‘No Child Left Behind,’ according to an NBC News report on Thursday afternoon. Obama signed the bipartisan-supported bill that passed the Senate without a problem on Wednesday and was passed by the United States House of Representatives last week. Though it took 13 years to convince politicians in the nation’s capital that NCLB has been unworkable and incredibly overreaching, it has finally happened.
Obama called the bill “a Christmas miracle.” Educators who had to work under the dictates of the failed program are likely agreeing – en masse. Obama continued to say, “This is a big step in the right direction, a true bipartisan effort.” The president also used the ceremonial and celebratory signing of the bill as an opportunity to praise his outgoing and often controversial Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Duncan, referred to as “tenacious” by Obama, was at the signing. According to the Atlantic, the program is called the ‘Every Child Succeeds’ Act.
The new educational law encourages every state in the union to limit the time students spend on testing and diminishes the high stakes for under-performing schools – based on test scores. Basically, the states will again have more of the decision-making power they had before NCLB became the law of the land. The concern of NCLB was that it dictated a policy in which schools were treated identically from coast to coast. What one school was told it had to do to continue receiving federal funding was expected to be done at all schools regardless of where they were located and the population of students it was teaching.
Many believe that it wasn’t logical to expect schools’ needs in one part of the country to be exactly the same as needs of a school far away. It’s a program that many believe never should have been initiated. Requiring the same criteria for all schools was found to be totally unacceptable for the 100,000 or more public schools throughout the country. The new law gives states flexibility beyond the stringent dictates of test scores and other means of measuring a school’s performance.
For teachers, with the new law there will no longer be the federal mandate that teacher evaluations are connected to student performance on tests. While some schools in some states may still choose to do so, it is not recommended or required anymore. As for students, they will still need to take federally mandated statewide reading and math examinations in grades three through eight and one more time in high school. Many schools still give them in third, sixth, and eighth grade and one more time during a student’s high school education. It is commonly agreed upon that there needs to be a common measuring mechanism in place to monitor a student’s progress through his elementary and secondary education.
This new bill could also bury Common Core which has been heavily criticized since its initiation as well. The legislation says the federal government cannot mandate or give states any incentives to adopt or maintain any particular set of academic standards, according to The Hill. In a nutshell, that is basically what Common Core does. Schools have had to engage in the controversial dictates of the program or be severely penalized by loss of funding by the federal government. Many schools have had no choice but to do as they were allegedly bribed to do. With the new law, the alleged ‘bribery’ of making schools do what they are told by the feds will now be a thing of the past. To this, administrators and teachers throughout the land must be giving a resounding “Thank you, Congress and President Obama!” The law is truly a big step in the right direction for education in the United States. The benefits of there being no more ‘No Child Left Behind’ ought to be magnificent for educators and, ultimately, students alike.