The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has become the most fiercely debated education issue of this election year, and it will be at the center of the national conversation about schools for the foreseeable future. NCLB, signed into law in 2002, purports to improve public schools—and especially the way they serve poor children—by enforcing a system of standards and accountability through high-stakes testing and sanctions. It is radically affecting the life of schools around the country.
Many Children Left Behind is a devastating brief against NCLB. Far from improving public schools and increasing the ability of the system to serve poor and minority children, the authors argue, the law is doing exactly the opposite. Here some of our most prominent, respected voices in education—including Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn, and 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
* How we need alternatives to construing the idea of accountability in terms of test scores and sanctions.
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.
The editors and contributors are founding members of the Forum for Education and Democracy, a nonprofit think tank.