NCLB needs wiggle room

Published 12:02 am Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our federal government’s spinmeisters have become pretty good in the last few years at creating catchy names for legislation.

The premise, we suppose, is that with a good name to help market the law, it almost guarantees public support, even if no one really understands what’s in it or the consequences the law will create.

What’s worse is that Congress is often far too slow to respond when a new law clearly isn’t working or is creating more problems than solutions.

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Such is the case with the “No Child Left Behind” law passed by Congress in 2001. Both Democrats and Republicans supported the law’s passage.

On the surface, its intention — to provide accountability to the country’s education system and reduce any education gaps — was right on the mark. Both are important goals to improving the education system of our nation, which is paramount to our country’s future success.

Unfortunately, as do many such one-size-fits-all approaches, the NCLB act drew fire almost immediately because its strict focus on the rules and punitive accountability standards seem to do little to improve the education system. In fact, just the opposite is true, many educators believe.

By forcing every student to fit through the same size and shaped hole, many do in fact fall through the cracks. Other students have the creativity squeezed out of them by the NCLB’s incessant focus on standardized testing and little else.

We applaud the White House’s plans to ease up on the restrictions and provide a bit more logic to the system. It’s long overdue and, with some changes, perhaps the law can eventually live up to its name.