NCLB Made Us Better.


It’s true.

We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true.

In fact this may be the most unpopular position I’ve ever taken on this blog (although I catch a lot of grief when I call The Evil Spawn “Evil”.)nclb

Educators are bred to dislike everything that is new.

This is understandable because so much new stuff is dumped on us and most of it is easily recognized as junk.

Kind of like the new fall TV season (do we really need a new Tim Allen show?).

NCLB wasn’t thought out (surprise, surprise… when the government is involved).

It wasn’t good for kids.

It was doomed to fail from the very beginning.

And even with all of this, it made us better.

Yes, you heard me right.

Schools, teachers, and administrators  have improved significantly 10 years after NCLB was dropped like a big greasy bowl of school spaghetti in their laps .

We may dislike President Bush, mandated testing, and the Department of Education, but if we are honest with ourselves there is only one conclusion.

The world doesn’t need another bad Tim Allen sitcom (I haven’t seen it, so maybe it’s better than I envision… and his movies).

Sorry, there are two conclusions.

The second is NCLB demanded we work harder, pay more attention to curriculum, and made us all more accountable on the local, state, and federal levels.

It was flawed legislation and yet we still improved.

This makes me wonder how much better public education could be if the government actually had a clue about educating kids.

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Blame Game.

We live in a society of zero personal responsibility.

Everyone blames every one else for their troubles.My Fault?  More Like Your Fault.

This has become the fabric of our society.

You even see this attitude in schools.

Elementary schools blame parents for not having their children ready for an education.

They can’t read.  They can’t write.  They eat crayons by the dozens.  They attack each other with pencils.

They should all be heavily medicated.

Middle schools blame the Elementary schools for not getting those same kids prepared for 5th – 8th grade.

They aren’t good at math.  Or science.  Or writing. 

They can’t sit still.  They can’t read.  They have no social skills.  Their hygiene is horrendous (this part may well be true).

They don’t care about anything (except sports and dating).

High schools blame everyone.

They have to fix everything the elementary, middle school, and parents messed up.

Colleges are just disgusted.

They get students who aren’t prepared for the rigors of higher education, so they have to re-teach the skills students should have learned during their K-12 years.

It never stops.

School districts blame state governments for not sending them enough money (by enough I mean… more, and more, and more).

States blame the Federal Government.

Congress blames the President.

The President blames Congress.

Democrats blame Republicans.

George W. Bush gets blamed for everything.

It goes on and on.

The only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that no one ever stands up and says

“My fault.  Blame me.  I could have done better.”

To err is human. To blame someone else is politics – Hubert H. Humphrey.

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NCLB. Don’t Tell Me the Problem, I Need the Solution.

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.NCLB Isn't All Bad.

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?

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