No Child Left Behind Is A Civil Rights Issue
Last month, I cited an editorial by Brent Staples chastising the civil rights establishment for losing "its independence, becoming so allied with the Democratic Party that it is disinclined to embrace even beneficial policies that happen to have Republican face, such as Pres Bush's No Child Left Behind law"
In School Law Spurs Efforts to End the Minority Gap, Sam Dillon clearly makes the point:
BOSTON - Spurred by President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, educators across the nation are putting extraordinary effort into improving the achievement of minority students, who lag so sharply that by 12th grade, the average black or Hispanic student can read and do arithmetic only as well as the average eighth-grade white student.
Here in Boston, low-achieving students, most of them blacks and Hispanics, are seeing tutors during lunch hours for help with math. In a Sacramento junior high, low-achieving students are barred from orchestra and chorus to free up time for remedial English and math. And in Minnesota, where American Indian students, on average, score lower than whites on standardized tests, educators rearranged schedules so that Chippewa teenagers who once sewed beads onto native costumes during school now work on grammar and algebra.
"People all over the country are suddenly scrambling around trying to find ways to close this gap," said Ronald Ferguson, a Harvard professor who for more than a decade has been researching school practices that could help improve minority achievement. He said he recently has received many requests for advice. "Superintendents are calling and saying, 'Can you help us?' "
No Child Left Behind requires schools to bring all students to grade level over the next decade. The law has aroused a backlash from teachers' unions and state lawmakers, who call some of its provisions unreasonable, like one that punishes schools where test scores of disabled students remain lower than other students'. But even critics acknowledge that the requirement that schools release scores categorized by students' race and ethnic group has obliged educators to work harder to narrow the achievement gap.
Again, all sides have issues with certain provisions of this legislation, but how can people who claim to care about poor kids and urban education not only deny the positive effects of NCLB, but work to undermine it rather than improve upon it?
I know the answer. I'd just like to hear the other side say it--or rationalize their position.
[ Continued... ]