In his State of the Union address, President Bush told the Congress and the American people that, “Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and today, no one can deny its results.”
He’s right: no one can deny the disastrous results of one of the worst pieces of educational legislation ever passed in the United States.
Contrary to the president’s beliefs, NCLB does not help children in public schools thrive. It helps them be better test takers.
The program requires that any student attending a public school be tested a number of times on math, science and other curricula. If the students do not receive a high enough grade, the school is labeled as “failing” and the federal government stops funding it until the grades can be brought back up. And it’s not as though the government is taking away any extra funding that came as a result of this bill. Public schools were expected to raise their test scores with the meagre funds they were already being given.
There is one huge problem with taking money away from so called “failing” schools: without money, how are they supposed to perform better? Without funding, how can they afford to pay for decent textbooks, good teachers, or even simple school supplies, like paper? Taking away their funding ensures that they will probably not be able to make the grade, and thus be shut down, flooding the surrounding public schools with their students. These extra kids then tax the resources of those public schools, making them less able to teach well. It is a vicious cycle perpetuated by this useless bill.
So, the teachers, in order to keep what little money they receive from the federal government, must teach their students what they need to know in order to do well on the tests. NCLB has reduced the education of America’s children to filling in a bubble. Education is now no. 2 pencils, stop watches and 30 minute breaks.
As for teachers, NCLB is simply a nuisance. They are also required to take tests, except theirs only focus on the subjects they are teaching. However, just knowing the information does not make you a good teacher. NCLB doesn’t test for teaching ability; it tests for knowledge, and having knowledge without being able to impart it on someone else makes for a pretty bad instructor.
In his address Monday night, President Bush made it clear that he believes private education is better than public. Instead of offering solutions to make “failing” schools acceptable, he is giving up on public education as a whole. He should be providing more money to failing schools, so that they can provide their students with the resources they need in order to succeed. However, he offered a new initiative, which would give private schools the money that public ones so desperately need.
He is offering a Pell Grant system for children, similar to the Pell Grant program for students in college. While this makes sense for college students, since there is no such thing as a free university education, it is money spent unwisely on America’s children. The new program would provide a staggering $300 million for America’s private schools, which begs the question: Why are we giving more money to private schools, which already are receiving the money they need to remain good institutions of learning? Why are we not giving that money to the public education system, which has the potential to thrive, if it only had the resources?
I firmly believe that a public education is something that every child should take advantage of. I spent my entire childhood in public schools, and I am no worse for the wear. The education I received from the public school system was good enough to provide me with a few scholarships so that I would be able to attend a university, and I’m proud to be currently enrolled in a public school.
President Bush is wrong in disregarding the public education system in this country. The majority of children attend them, graduate from them and move on to public universities if they so choose. To deny public schools the chance to teach their students, and teach them well, is absolutely the wrong decision.