Is NCLB Helping or Hijacking?

Following TeacherJay’s comments that while the No Child Left Behind Act is certainly not the magic cure for America’s ailing schools, from a previous post, some of his comments appeared on fellow blogger Rick Branscomb’s site. Branscomb is the author of Deducation and seems to believe that a major goal of NCLB legislation is to prove that the public schools in this country are failing in order to turn school funding over to private enterprise. An excerpt from an earlier entry includes, “Our educational system is being killed: it’s almost dead. Deducation, I call it. Mind-numbing, teaching to invalid tests, memorization of facts that won’t be facts tomorrow, stifling all ability to think critically, taking all teaching decisions out of the hands of teachers” in his plea to have NCLB repealed.

While TeacherJay does not look forward to living in the dystopian world where schools are reduced to the monotony that Branscomb describes, he is not fearful either because he does not see overwhelming evidence that it will occur. In fact, some legislators are not happy about NCLB, either and will hopefully be able to make some changes to it during reauthorization. Still, TeacherJay felt he should share some examples of when education has been turned into a business in this New York Times article about what happened in Madison, Wisconsin in 2004. Officials had recognized that students were progressing poorly in reading. Time and money were invested in a whole language approach to reading. Next, enter contractors of the US Education Department who put pressure on those officials to abandon their whole language program and adopt the Reading First program. Madison schools stood up for their students and turned down the money in favor of teaching kids to read and make meaning out of words, not to simply pronounce the phonetic sounds. Good job, Madison, WI – you get a gold star for resisting “educational hijacking” – WELL DONE!

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