Monday, March 9, 2009

No Child Left Behind might be left behind!

If you have not read Mark's blog today, you should!

Arne Duncan is talking about No Child Left Behind, and though he is not quite saying what I would want to hear (No Child Left Behind is a failed policy, an albatross around our necks, needs to be scrapped, etc.) he is saying that in a Washington savvy kind of way, perhaps. 

No Child Left Behind needs to be re-branded. Maybe even revised, rewritten. That sounds like new policy potentially. That would be good. Potentially. WE need to get involved. 

What role does the federal government play in education anyway? How does it impact state and local education agencies? Besides mandating education for all children, including children of color, Native American children, and children with disabilities, federal regulations define how money is spent in education. 

No Child Left Behind  also regulated curriculum through departments like Reading First, that controlled what curricula could be purchased and used in schools. Reading First has bordered on scandal, with accusations that officers took kickbacks and prevented fair competition among publishers. 

Reading First is an illustration of what is wrong with No Child Left Behind and educational policy in our current era. It is publisher focused, that is,  a business enterprise, driven by business people who see the world as a market place in which problems are solved by buying and selling things. Not that there is anything wrong with that. 

But it just may raise the wrong set of questions. 

Maybe it is time to stop talking about NCLB altogether and decide what conversation we want to have going forward. Let's talk about a new vision for education, and leave the old brand behind completely. We don't need a new brand for an old corporation, we need a whole new model of business, I mean, school.