USA: “No Child Left Behind” is failing to lead the way, say affiliates
While both the AFT and NEA agree that the NCLB initiative established laudable goals - high standards, accountability for all, and the belief that all children can learn, regardless of their background or ability - its underfunding and bureaucracy are masking the true progress made in schools.
EI affiliate the NEA believes that proven reforms such as small class sizes and improved teacher training, and years of hard work by dedicated educators, are producing real results in many schools and school districts. But the law as currently constructed fails to give parents and educators a fair and accurate picture of which schools are improving and why. The law's bureaucratic system of standardised tests, rankings, and sanctions is also interfering with ongoing efforts to boost achievement for all children and neglecting to focus attention and resources on those individual students who need the most need help. Additional resources are needed to help improve schools that are facing sanctions, so the law becomes focused on building success, rather labeling and punishing. EI affiliate the AFT’s “Let’s get it Right” campaign is informing the public about the flaws in NCLB and how the law should be changed. The campaign includes a sing-along animation and a blog inviting comments from teachers and concerned parents. The site also asks visitors to sign a petition urging Congress to strengthen public education. “The stakes are too high to wait for the official reauthorization of this law [in 2007] to begin talking about how to fix it,” explained AFT President Edward J. McElroy. “Right now, the NCLB law is not working the way it should. It needs to be made more accurate and fair and should provide credit for the progress made by the students and schools being measured.”