Signed into law in 2002, the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) promised to revolutionize American public education. Originally supported by a bipartisan coalition, it purports to improve public schools by enforcing a system of standards and accountability through high-stakes testing. Many people supported it originally, despite doubts, because of its promise especially to improve the way schools serve poor children. By making federal funding contingent on accepting a system of tests and sanctions, it is radically affecting the life of schools around the country.
But, argue the authors of this citizen's guide to the most important political issue in education, far from improving public schools and increasing the ability of the system to serve poor and minority children, the law is doing exactly the opposite. Here some of our most prominent, respected voices in education-including school innovator Deborah Meier, education activist Alfie Kohn, and founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools Theodore R. Sizer-come together to show us how, point by point, NCLB undermines the things it claims to improve:
- How NCLB punishes rather than helps poor and minority kids and their schools
- How NCLB helps further an agenda of privatization and an attack on public schools
- How the focus on testing and test preparation dumbs down classrooms
And they put forward a richly articulated vision of alternatives.
Educators and parents around the country are feeling the harshly counterproductive effects of NCLB. This book is an essential guide to understanding what's wrong and where we should go from here.
“This is a valuable and insightful look at the most sweeping school-reform policy in 35 years.”
“This book is a clarion call for a public education that serves all children well and a reminder that our functioning democracy is at stake.”
“Many Children Left Behind
does a chilling job of summarizing the case against the NCLB educational law and the policies put into place during George W. Bush’s administration. It reveals the fallacies, the hidden agendas and the distortions embedded in this act . . . This book marks an important stage in the dialogue about the future of American education.”
The editors and contributors are all highly respected experts in education and founding members of the Forum for Education and Democracy, a nonprofit organization for social change.