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No Child Left Behind Act

The No Child Left Behind Act was proposed on March 22, 2001 by John Boehner, a republican representative from the State of Ohio. The bill was introduced to the House of Representative as H. R. 1 and a series of committee hearings was conducted in the House of Representatives throughout May 2001. The House of Representatives passed H. R. 1 on May 23, 2001 and filed House Report 107-63. On June 4, 2001, the U. S. Senate passed H. R. 1 as amended. Consequently, Senate Report 107-7 was filed. Many expressed doubts that due to the dreadful events that occurred on September 11, 2001, the legislation will not be signed into law in 2001.

However, the conference committee, which met in July and August earlier that year continued to conduct meetings in October and November (Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis, 2002). The House of Representatives adopted on December 13, 2001 the Conference Report-House Report 107-334. The said Conference Report was passed by the Senate on December 18, 2001. On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 after such measure had been presented to him on January 4, 2002 (Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis, 2002).

The principles enshrined in the No Child Left Behind can be traced to the 50-year old U. S. Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court prohibited “racial segregation in public schools and determined that the ‘separate but equal doctrine’ was unconstitutional” (U. S. Department of Education, 2004). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 ensures flexibility and accountability, along with enhanced support for education from the federal government. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 continues the legacy of the principles upheld in the half-century old Brown v.

Board of Education decision by building an education system, which is “more inclusive, responsive, and fair” (U. S. Department of Education, 2004). B. Political Process and History The No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law with tremendous support coming from the two political parties. In the Senate, the final votes were 87 – 10; while in the House of Representatives, the results were 381 – 41. The chief sponsors of the act in Senate were Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Greg (R-NH). On the other hand, the act’s chief sponsors in the House were George Miller (D-CA) and John Boehner (R-OH) (U.

S. Department of Education, 2004). In spite of the overwhelming support that the act received from legislators of both houses from the two political parties, the act was not immune from criticisms and controversies. As such, there were issues with regard to the propriety of accountability, which the law gave to the states in administering high-quality assessments. The act calls for assessments, which are abreast with standards, “consistent with nationally recognized professional and technical standards.

” The act further dictates that these must be used “in a valid and reliable manner, and test higher order thinking skills using multiple measures” (Goldhaber, 2002). The question however does not arise from the appropriateness of the “accountability measures,” but rather from the difficulty of defining what is appropriate and what is not. By the passage of this law, many details are left to be construed liberally in favor of the Department of Education with regard to the states. For instance, a question worth pondering is what would constitute a so-called high-quality assessment.

Also, there are qualms on how can one be said to be in alignment with professional standards and questions with regard to the definition of an assessment conducted “in a valid and reliable manner”. These questions were left unanswered. Moreover, wider powers were given to the Department of Education in construing concepts, which could eventually lead to disparities within the education system as regulations might be construed in a state-to-state basis (Goldhaber, 2002). On a positive tone, the vagueness of the act may lead to better policymaking with regard to education.

State and federal governments may come up with specific law that will be applied particularly to local contexts. In this manner, policymakers will find the best solutions fit for every locality with regard to education (Goldhaber, 2002). Another controversy surrounding the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act is that it was underfunded. State legislators claim that the federal government is giving insufficient amount of money, which will be used in administering the new mandate to states given by the No Child Left Behind Act.

State governments had pleaded to the federal government through a resolution, asking relief with regard to what they view as “imposition of unfunded and unrealistic mandates” (Mathis, 2005). The state governments argued, with sturdy bipartisan support, that neither a state nor a school district can be obliged to spend without federal appropriation. Moreover, they hold that state money cannot be used for federal mandate (Mathis, 2005).

These accusations were answered during President Bush’s weekly radio address on January 4, 2003 that the No Child Left Behind Act was fully funded. Moreover, Education Secretary Rod Paige articulated that there had been a 51 per cent increase in federal budget since the passage of the act in question. The Education Leasers Council was in Paige’s support as they averred that the claims of underfunding were rather misguided. Studies from various institutions show that federal increase in appropriation is enough to shoulder the costs of implementing the act (Mathis, 2005).

In spite of several disagreements on whether the act was sufficiently funded, it had been a consensus among the opposing parties that the primary goal of this legislation is to make sure that every child is educated (Mathis, 2005). Along with the many issues the No Child Left Behind Act may offer, it is inevitable that a law, which focuses on improving a very important aspect of life would sail on smoothly without affecting the very norms and culture of the school system. With the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, many school heads had envisioned success for their respective school districts.

If there had been a positive contribution in shaping the school system culture, it would be the fact that the act had made the education sector very competitive. Many superintendents have agreed that the passage of the act had made them set-up high standards for their school jurisdiction (Sherman, 2008). In spite of the competitive culture that the No Child Left Behind had brought to the school system, it had its own backlash. While others are improving their proficiency due to these new federal guidelines, some are having a hard time to grasp the high quality standards set by their respective schools.

Superintendents concede to the fact that a child’s learning abilities differ from person to person. In spite of the efforts to give federal support in increasing scholastic competitiveness, some children, who are considered to be handicapped when it comes to learning, cannot keep abreast with the standards of those average school children (Sherman, 2008). This scenario gives rise to another set of culture within the school system, the minority kids. The presence of minority kids in school had produced a new perception, which is prejudicial to them.

Since the goal of the No Child Left Behind Act behind is to set high standards in the education system to the extent that they would penalize schools, which will not be able to reach a certain standard, school directors consider these minority kids who have learning disabilities as extra burdens (Sherman, 2008). This new culture of minority kids have social undertakings as well. Minority kids do not only refer to those who have inherent learning disabilities, but also to those who are having a hard time with their academics due to social and cultural interferences such as but not limited to immigrants who are English language learners.

The act also calls for the adequate yearly progress of racial and ethnic minorities and English language learners. But as discussed earlier, they themselves had made a new set of culture, which has a derogatory connotation within the American school system. Given that scenario, the aspirations of the No Child Left Behind Act to improve their situation will not be realized to its full extent (Orfield, Losen, Wald & Swanson, 2004). Many controversies had sprung from ever since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. It had spawned interest in political, social, cultural and economic areas.

Each of the arguments in either field is not devoid of merit. It is important to understand where those criticisms are coming from. The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is to improve the American education system. In spite of its noble aspirations, it is inevitable that it would encounter criticisms and controversies along its way. Education plays a very important role in one’s life. Hence, the effect of the passage of the No Child left Behind Act cannot be discounted. Its effectiveness lies in its implementation and the cooperation of the parties involved. References Goldhaber, D.

(2002). What might go wrong with the accountability measures of the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’? Will no child truly be left behind? The challenges of making this law work. Washington, D. C. : Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Mathis, W. J. (2005). The cost of implementing the federal No Child Left Behind Act: different assumptions, different answers. Peabody Journal of Education. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. pp 90-119. Office of Legislative Policy Analysis. (2002) No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from http://olpa. od. nih. gov/legislation/107/ publiclaws/3nochild.

asp. Orfield, G. , Losen, D. , Wald, J. , & Swanson, C. , (2004). Losing Our Future: How Minority Youth are Being Left Behind by the Graduation Rate Crisis, Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. Sherman, W. H. (2008). A legislative catalyst for superintendent action to eliminate test-score gap. Educational Policy. London: Corwin Press. U. S. Department of Education (2004). A Guide to Education and No Child Left Behind: The History of No Child Left Behind. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from http://www. ed. gov/ nclb/overview/intro/guide/guide_pg12. html#history

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