Back in 2001, then President George W. Bush hailed the passage of what he called one of the hallmarks of his administration, the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)*. Considered the most sweeping education reform since Lyndon Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind’s proponents claimed that it would raise the standardized test scores nationwide. In 2005, these same proponents pointed to the National Assessment of Educational Progress results that appeared to show marked improvement among 9 year olds in reading and math.
Oddly enough, there appeared to be no progress in other age groups and opponents to NCLB argued that scores even fell among other age groups even as the makers of the standardized tests worked to make the tests easier.
To some extent, the problem above is not that scores may or may not have improved in certain groups or sub-groups of students nationwide or that standardized tests were made easier.
Those are just footnotes to a much larger problem – a federally mandated education standard.
When standardized testing becomes the goal for teachers, the curriculum follows suit and the learning environment is constrained. With focus on reading, writing and mathematics and rewards based on how students test on those subjects, the liberal arts are, in effect, dismissed as non-essentials. Teachers teach to the test.
It is now proven that under NCLB, history, art, music, language and other subjects have been reduced by over 70% nationwide. On top of all this, NCLB does nothing to actually cut the $25 billion budget of the Department of Education, one of the most bloated bureaucracies in Washington, D.C.
There were a lot of conservatives elected these last few election cycles under the auspices of cutting government spending in Washington, D.C. and getting government out of our lives.
This Thursday, they have an opportunity to do so by voting against reauthorizing NCLB and working towards commonsense education reforms that give parents and local education boards more control over how students are taught as well as making American school childrens’ educational experience more well rounded.
Given its lack of popularity, many would think defeating the reauthorization for NCLB would be an easy task with Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Apparently, it is not.
Unlike welfare dependency programs, which the best we can hope for is a reform bill cutting around the edges of the program, NCLB is detested by both the Right and the Left. As an added bonus, it has created no dependency. Quite the contrary, there is popular sentiment to scrap federal intervention and standardized testing altogether. So why are Republicans committed to preserving it by reauthorizing the program for another seven years?
It is our hope that many of you reading this post will ask the same question and reach out to your Members, asking them to vote against the reauthorization of NCLB on Thursday.
To reach your Member’s office, you can go to www.House.gov and find a listing of each Congressional office with contact information.
If you would like to call them, dial 202-224-3121 (the Capitol switchboard) and ask for your Member’s office.
The request is simple. Ask them to vote against the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, bill H.R. 5.
*The Madison Project’s chairman, former Congressman Jim Ryun, voted against No Child Left Behind during his tenure in Congress.
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