Letter to the Editor of The National Journal
Regarding Brian Friel’s informative piece on lamentations being heard across the education world as provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 begin to take effect (9/13/03, p.2764): Is it really so outrageous for a school that has done a reasonably good job with its privileged majority to be designated as in need of improvement because the test scores of one or more “subgroups” (blacks, Hispanics, English learners, special education kids) have not risen to acceptable levels?
Is it so terrible that a principal has to communicate with the public about specific failures amid larger successes, or that he should have to work with low-income parents to gain their children access to private tutoring to help them catch up with more privileged classmates?
The very point of this bipartisan enactment was to address gaps in achievement that have continued to plague disadvantaged students despite the expenditure of more than $150 billion since passage of the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. After all, that’s why it’s called No Child Left Behind, instead of No Child Left Behind Except Members of Racial Minorities or Immigrant Families, or Those Bearing Labels Applied by the Education Bureaucracy.
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