Itâ€™s time to say in a national newspaper what millions of teachers, students and parents already know: No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is an appalling and unredeemable experiment that has done incalculable damage to our schools â€” particularly those serving poor, minority and limited-English-proficiency students.
Itâ€™s a stretch even to call the law â€œwell-intentionedâ€ given that its creators, including the Bush administration and the right-wing Heritage Foundation, want to privatize public education. Hence NCLBâ€™s merciless testing, absurd timetables and reliance on threats.
Letâ€™s be clear: This law has nothing to do with improving learning. At best, itâ€™s about raising scores on multiple-choice exams. This law is not about discovering which schools need help; we already know. This law is not about narrowing the achievement gap; its main effect has been to sentence poor children to an endless regimen of test-preparation drills. Thus, even if the scores do rise, itâ€™s at the expense of a quality education. Affluent schools are better able to maintain good teaching â€” and retain good teachers â€” despite NCLB, so the gap widens.