Why You Don't Hate No Child Left Behind

Students, parents, teachers, community members, yadda, yadda, yadda love to tell me how much they hate the federal law No Child Left Behind.  When they do, I ask just one poignant question, "What do you hate about it?"  Their response, "I just hate the whole law.  I mean, they are leaving children behind!"

Really?  Have you seen the law?  Have you seen what it includes?  Then, I educate them.  I am a teacher, after all, right?

No Child Left Behind (also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), like most federal laws, is divided into chapters.  Well, they are not called chapters, but instead the law is divided into titles.   Each title speaks to a different topic related to providing the most high quality, public education the US Department of Education can encourage and/or require.

The titles are hard to "hate."  Who doesn't want....

Title 1:  Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged (Meaning, children who are at risk for not having successful experiences in school.  This includes children from poverty, students who struggle with literacy, and a discussion about high school drop-outs)

Title 2:  Preparing, Training and Recruiting High-quality Teachers and Principals (includes a useful section about preparing teachers to use technology.  Huzzah!)

Title 3:  Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students (My favorite group of students to work with - English Language Learners - Yay!)

Title 4:  21st Century Schools (Sadly, this includes topics that need addressing:  drug- and gun-free schools.  Boo!  But, it is reality)

Title 5:  Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs (just say, "innovation" and I'm in!  This section talks about magnet and charter schools and gifted instruction.  Woot, woot!)

Title 6:  Flexibility and Accountability (Think standardized assessments and lots of metrics to measure student progress)

Title 7:  Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education  (You know how much I adore my Navajo students)

Title 8:  Impact Aid Program (Think construction of buildings. This section is a snoozer, to me)

Title 9:  General Provisions (Think "the basics" - how many days of schools should be required, defining key terms, prayer in schools policy, etc.)

Title 10:  Repeals, Redesignations and Amendments to Other Statues (This title is a bit of a default for topics that might be addressed in other federal mandates or have been amended)

Do you see what I mean?  What's to hate?  

If you are going to "hate" anything, hate the fact that only a small percentage of the federal budget is allocated for education (explained here) and thus, laws like No Child Left Behind could use more financial support.  Period.

Who knows what the next four years will bring with re-elected President Obama.  I am not thinking miracles as far as education goes, but maybe some updates to No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Remember what my inside source said here.  Some freshening up could be on the horizon.

All the best,

PS - Just in case you want to read the entire No Child Left Behind law in all its splendor, click here.


  1. Sadly, I think that most American's are very unaware of any of the laws and decisions the government and administrators make when it comes to the school systems. Most educators would say they hate the law, too and ARE informed. I don't think this has anything to do with them not believing in any of the titles. Really the hate is misplaced because teachers often feel they are the ones held responsible for the law. They feel powerless and inadequate because of those financial issues that make it impossible for school districts to give teachers the support they need. States are having a hard enough time balancing their budgets and teachers are being laid off and yet the rest are still being held accountable for the law. The law has merit but is hard to accomplish when teachers are underpaid and tired.

    1. Stacey - That is exactly my point. Don't hate the law, but instead speak to disliking the "lack of financial support" that is necessary to enforce the law especially in such lean economic times.

      My hope is that educators (and my college students - who are future educators) can speak more clearly about the law and what it entails. Not just hate it without understanding its titles and yes, it's lack Congress putting their money where their mouth is.

      Thank you for commenting on this post. It is more NCLB food for thought.


  2. I may be misinformed (please tell me if I am)but the thing I dislike about this mandate is #6 and the emphasis on standardized testing. From what I understand, all students have to pass the standardized tests, period. I highly dislike (see, not hate) standardized tests and think that they are not an accurate indicator of learning, and they are especially inaccurate for our multicultural learners. Then, I read Alfie Kohn's The 500-pound gorilla which details the oh-so-cozy relationship between big business and policy makers (in terms of education policy)....it made me really mad. My goal is teach students so that they genuinely learn. What if that doesn't translate to high test scores?


    1. K - I think that is the point of my post. If you are going to talk about NCLB, then be explicit. Like you: You don't like Title 6 (my least favorite title, as well). But, you don't "hate" the entire law. You disagree with a portion of it. That is completely valid.

      And yippee for mentioning Alfie Kohn. I love that guy and just about every idea he stands for.


    2. Thank you for posting about this! I think it is good to have a post once and awhile that challenges people to really think about their stance on an issue. And, more importantly, thank you for introducing me to Mr. Kohn and Mr. Pink...they have both been instrumental in helping me find my way through grad school (I will have to tell you about my final research project).