Within Our Reach

Dale Patrick Dempsey

By Dale Patrick Dempsey

American education stands at a crossroads. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 has the potential to have as big an impact on the quality of education in America as Brown vs. the Board of Education had on equality in education. Or not.

The goal of NCLB is to have every child proficient in reading and math by 2014. Those are the key skills students need for success in nearly every other academic subject, John Chubb writes in his pamphlet, Within Our Reach: How America Can Educate Every Child. Chubb is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and one of the founders of Edison Schools. He writes that getting to the promised land will not be easy, and teachers and school districts are currently struggling with the demands of NCLB.

The law seeks to improve student test scores with a strict diet of high standards, school choice, and accountability measures. Some states, which can design their own graduation tests, are choosing to lower the bar by setting their proficiency tests at ninth or even eighth grade levels. The authors of this report recommend state tests be measured against the National Assessment of Academic Progress, and that each state’s ranking be published for all to see. In this way, the task force argues, states with low expectations will be “outed” and forced to raise their testing standards.

Some politicians may be tempted to water down the expectations of NCLB, but voters, both Democrat and Republican, should not allow a retreat on its core premise: that all children can learn and that all schools should be held accountable for delivering results.

A retreat now would be a great loss, as this pamphlet so persuasively puts forth. Look for this report at http://www.rowmanlittlefield.com.

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