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.