Saturday, September 11, 2004

Let's not let the 'full-funding' issue distract from the real problem

Glad takes on this misrepresentation by the Washington Times.
Moreover, the Times' assertion that the apparent surplus "should debunk the myth that No Child Left Behind is an unfunded federal mandate" ignores the budgetary shortfalls that have occurred as a result of the legislation.
However, Mediamatters doesn't discuss the most egregious problem with NLCB. I'm going to point out Stan Karp's excellent must-read piece.
What's the right funding level for a bad law? Almost from the day Congress passed the No Child Left Behind act (NCLB), there have been contentious debates about its funding levels. But while these debates have raised significant issues about what constitutes "full funding" for NCLB, they have generally avoided the fact that without drastic changes in its "test and punish" approach to school improvement and its promotion of privatization and market reform in education, full funding for NCLB might actually make things worse.
Here's more.
Pouring money into NCLB as it is currently constructed means funneling much of it to testing companies, "supplemental tutorial providers," for-profit education companies, and voucher-inspired "choice" plans. NCLB needs to be transformed from a test, punish, and privatize law into a real school improvement law. The obsessive reliance on standardized testing (including the ridiculous "adequate yearly progress" system), the punitive sanctions, the chaotic transfer plans, and the educational malpractice that the law imposes on special-education and bilingual students all need major revision. Only if and when that happens can "full funding for NCLB" become a legitimate rallying cry for schools and their advocates. NCLB is one beast that needs to be tamed before it should be fed.
I'm officially off the full-funding bandwagon because the full-funding mantra distracts us from more egregious issues with NCLB. As Stan Karp says, we need to tame that beast first else it'll destroy the entire system.