Thursday, November 06, 2003

NCLB and the candidates

I was curious: so what are the Democratic candidates saying about NCLB? Obviously, the NCLB solution is legislative and by that, I don't believe that increasing funding is the correct answer. As it stands, it is a betrayal of what public education ought be and where it should be headed. Currently, NCLB leads school into a testing quagmire. It needs to be chucked, otherwise, it will destroy public education.

I visited each Democratic candidate website and looked for their position on NCLB. Let me know if I’m missing the boat but here are my quick results:

Sharpton: nada on the website
Braun: nada on the website
Kucinich: I will admit I was truly disappointed because I found nothing directly about NCLB.
Clark: nothing
Lieberman: nothing
Edwards: nothing
Gephardt: nothing

Kerry: He says this on his website:
    Keep the Promises of "No Child Left Behind": John Kerry voted for the No Child Left Behind education reform law. The plan gave states flexibility in using federal funds to address local needs and promised extra aid to help students from low-income families reach high standards. However, unless schools receive the resources they were promised and respect they deserve, the new law will fail and inequality will persist. Where the Bush Administration sought to cut funding for school reform and issued restrictive guidelines, John Kerry will fund the new effort and ensure states have the flexibility to meet the goals of the law.

Kerry’s statement is indirect; he sounds as though he wants it both ways. He voted for it, but he knows there are problems with it, which I find annoying. The line that the problem is not enough funding doesn’t cut it. I don’t think he gets that NCLB is seriously flawed and has to go.

Tangent: One thing that sticks out on his site is how much effort he spends attacking Dean. In the larger picture, the enemy is not Dean. What about the current regime in office? Attacks along those lines would be much more impressive.

Dean: Like the others, Dean’s official website doesn’t say a whole lot about NCLB. But I searched his blog and found this statement he made in the Washington Post:
    On Education: No Child Left Behind is bad policy. Texas and Ohio have already reduced their educational standards in order to save money. This bill is hurting American education not helping it. We need accountability in education and high standards and this bill is doing the opposite. I would scrap the majority of No Child Left Behind, fully fund special education and create a very high standards test with technical assistance to help schools meet the goals.

I’ll admit that by looking at just the websites, I’m wondering if I’m missing the most current statements. If that is true, then I'd like to see the candidates put more effort into updating their websites.

That said, Dean and his people are more on top of NCLB problem than any other candidate.

Jay Mathews, the Washington Post guy on education, has this to say about NCLB and the candidates, that "education [is] once again absent from most of the presidential debates and speeches". However, I strongly disagree with Mathews on this point, that “NCLB is better than any of the practical alternatives.” An interesting point: he also believes Bush’s focus on education in 2000 helped his campaign, which leaves me to wonder why the current Democratic candidates haven’t jumped on NCLB.

But that may be more about responding to the public. I don’t think most people know about NCLB.

NCLB will be a big issue, once the PTAs get on this case, as astutely pointed out by Jeanne. My big question is why the national PTA haven't made a stance on this issue yet.
Update: Cross posted to my diary on daily kos.