I want to go on record as saying (or typing) that No Child Left Behind may not be the evil monster it is portrayed to be.
Do I like all aspects of the law? No.
Do I think it is a daily aggravation hanging over educator’s heads? Yes.
Does it carry any real weight? I don’t think anyone knows as of yet.
Do I completely understand all of the details of the law? Probably not (but I am no more confused by it then I am; marriage, car engines, health insurance, how microwaves work, or why humans find reality shows on VH1 interesting).
What I do understand is that every profession needs rules and guidelines to encourage employees to do their best.
Without expectations it becomes easy to do an adequate job, but not a great one. When it comes to students, I think we can all agree that no one wants to settle for adequate, when great is always possible.
Everyone in education (and outside of education) understandably works harder when they are pushed to achieve more than they think possible.
It is human nature for people to rise or fall to the level of expectations. Some people are self motivated enough not to need the occasional push, but most of us are not.
When I was a kid, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I did a better job mowing the yard when I knew my dad would check on my work when I finished. I am not sure how much effort I would have put into the yard work if I knew there weren’t going to be consequences when I was done.
America is a results-based country. Athletic contests are based on who scores the most points (one reason we hate soccer… not enough points). Salespeople get paid bonuses for production. Politicians are elected by the most votes (sorry Mr. Gore, I know it still hurts). And as educators we give out grades every day.
Meeting goals and being evaluated is our way of life. Those who produce, get rewarded, and those who don’t, get passed by.
In a sentence, NCLB basically says schools have to improve themselves, or the government will come in and do it for them (technically, if it was that easy wouldn’t the government just improve them from the start?).
I understand that educators don’t want to be mandated standards that they feel are unreachable. This also makes sense to me, but yet I have never heard a counter proposal on how schools and teachers should be judged (Technically, if fixing NCLB/schools was that easy wouldn’t educators come up with adjustments to fix them, or have a plan to entirely overhaul the present system?).
Lots of people are good at pointing out problems, but it is so much harder to come up with a solution.
I try to understand the high expectations NCLB is placing on us. As a citizen, I certainly want and expect the highest (even unreachable) standards for other professions such as; airplane mechanics, construction workers, surgeons, firefighters, and fast food cooks.
You may be asking yourself, “Why did he mention fast food cooks?” Use your head people.
Administrators are Enemy #1 for high school kids as you pick up your food at the drive thru window (mental note; do not purchase fast food within 18 miles of your office desk … it is not worth the risk).
We need the highest standards possible for these angry 17 year olds working at Taco Bell (and constant video surveillance if possible).
But back to the expectations of NCLB.
Every occupation needs laws and regulations to govern them. In education we may feel overwhelmed by the federal law hanging over our heads, but I am sure Doug Heffernan had rules at IPS that he didn’t agree with (Google alert).
My point is NCLB is not the greatest law I have ever seen, but education does need rules and guidelines to follow so that all teachers and administrators work to their fullest potential, so students can reach theirs.
The only question I have left is with the War in Iraq, a possible recession, a mortgage crisis, immigration issues, terrorism, and gas prices skyrocketing… who takes over for President Bush if he doesn’t meet or exceed?