I read an illuminating and provocative essay recently about how, and why, the No Child Left Behind Act has failed—and I thought it worth sharing in this space. It happens to have been written by my older son, Nate Dolin, as a paper for his Junior year history class. He became interested in this issue having volunteered in several public elementary school classrooms, having worked with special needs/autism spectrum children and tutoring kids who struggle in their public middle school… and having been faced with numerous inequities, subsequently found himself wondering why things are as they are.
So, if we want our kids to be encouraged to consider growing up to help, perhaps even to step up and educate, the next generation of kids… our future grand children, we are well-served to deepen our understanding of why things may be as they are.
The No Child Left Behind act seeks to leave no child behind in terms of academics, but the intentions of the act will never be met. Even though President Bush claimed that the act was having a “dramatic effect” in 2008, the average white student scored 28 points higher on the reading section than the average African American student, and 26 points higher on the math section.[i] Since the White students are obviously not inherently smarter than the African American student, what is causing the immense score gap? Is every child in America really treated equally? If society believes all children should have an equal opportunity for education, why are the most disadvantaged children being left behind, why is excessive testing proving to be more harmful than beneficial, why can’t the “supposed” intentions of the act be met, and why do some argue that the act was intended to benefit the economy rather than the children?