Benjamin K.

4th Place - $1,000 Resolve to Evolve Scholarship Winner

No Child Left Behind?

Ben K.

There exists an issue that does not contain the conspiratorial nature of terrorism, or the prospect of a futuristic demise such as global warming. This issue is one of prominence to many, but seems to always be the last addressed. It seems to be at the forefront of controversy, but is still considered a mundane and unimportant issue during these turbulent times. The issue is one that affects every American, in each household, in every way, across the grand expanse of the United States of America. It carves the future path America will take during this era of information and global competition. This issue, one with such influential power and yet so entirely ignored, is education.

The United States’ government believes that its toothless No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act will save the dilapidated public education system. It won’t. The No Child Left Behind Act has been a resounding failure that does not sufficiently reform America’s educational system. The No Child Left Behind Act does not adequately challenge those students that show academic aptitude above and beyond the often minimal requirements of state imposed tests. These students are placed to the side while their intellectual aspirations go unrealized by the educational system implemented by their respective states and NCLB. On the reverse side of the coin are low-performance students that need special attention within the educational system. Since the No Child Left Behind Act created a system in which schools are rewarded for high annual test scores and punished for low ones, it can be surmised that schools have a larger incentive to abandon and push out chronically low-performing students instead of attempting to facilitate their academic development.

In actuality, even those mid-level students whom the NCLB tries to improve do not fully realize their academic potential. The No Child Left Behind Act places immense significance upon "core academic subjects" such as math, science, and reading. The current educational system is therefore set up to focus intensely upon those categories, which, in some cases, has called for some schools to cut back, or stop altogether, funding for art, physical education, and social studies classes. This creates a situation where students may score very well upon the standardized tests preferred by most states, but still lack a broad and enriched understanding of the world around them that they so desperately and justly deserve in the modern era.

The system set up by NCLB does not even take into account the question of whether incessant testing of students even translates into academic proficiency at a college-level after high school. Therefore, instead of preparing students for post-secondary education, NCLB focuses on the accountability of schools teaching students how to do well on state-level proficiency tests. This lack of foresight by the educational system creates an unmitigated gap between the academic difficulty of high schools and colleges. Such an error is inexcusable and shows one of the many failures of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Yet most government officials seem to be blind to these realities and continue to believe that public education is operating without fallibility. The outcome is a simple case of cause and effect. Education for each student drops, which in turn lessens the possibility of each student succeeding in the global market. Unemployment thereby rises due to globalization, which has minimized the amount of unskilled workers needed in the U.S. workforce. This epidemic of mass unemployment then contributes to drug use, violent crimes, and economic degeneration throughout the United States. Politicians still seem to be ignorant to the fact that the educational system is dated and in extreme need of reform, but improvement can occur through education reform and the proper distribution of the necessary funds; funds that will go towards America’s future.

Many steps need to be taken in order to improve the quality of education in America. First, parents must be utilized by the educational system in order to make sure that their children are performing their best in school. Parents must also be held accountable for their own withdrawal from the educational system, and must become fully engrossed in the teaching of their children. Some of the blame for students not meeting government standards must also be shifted away from the teachers, and onto the government for not allocating enough funds for the teachers to educate properly. Students must also face the consequence of being held back a grade, throughout their educational career, due to poor grades. Such a consequence will ensure that low-performance students will receive the attention necessary for them to be successful during their academic careers. Those students who show academic aptitude should be given the chance to test-out of any class at any grade level. Due to corruption that has run rampant throughout the educational system, administrative organization within schools must also be rearranged. This can be done by allowing the teachers to democratically elect a princi pal every four years, who can be recalled at any time by another vote of the teachers where the majority rules. The superintendent then hires his or her staff, but the selection of the principal and vice principal can only be accomplished with the support of a majority of teachers. A new independent agency should also be set up within the educational system to investigate corruption. The funds necessary in order to implement such changes can be ascertained by raising taxes, reallocating money from other agencies, making the process of spending money more efficient, or a combination of all three.

The No Child Left Behind Act failed to properly reform the degenerated American educational system. Truly, NCLB created a flawed system that unsuccessfully addressed many of the educational issues and floundered in acquiring its own funding. The No Child Left Behind Act, therefore, has not been successful in its purpose since 2001

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