CLASS DISMISSED: Government losing grip on education

Several states finally get to leave the No Child Left Behind Act in the dust — and for great reason.
As of late, 11 states have been given waivers that have freed them from the No Child Left Behind standards, enabling them to create their own school grading systems according to the state’s needs.
Florida was among this precious few, and I, for one, am ecstatic.

Jasmyn Elliott / Columnist

Jasmyn Elliott / Columnist

According to an article in The Miami Herald, under the No Child Left Behind Act, 100 percent of students in the state are required to be proficient in reading and math by 2014 in the hopes that minority and disadvantaged students will be able to reach their full potential.
Instead, the law has done more harm than good by labeling entire schools as “failures” and leaving them to help themselves without any resources while high performance schools received praise and funding.
It widened the very gap that it was trying to bridge together.
Furthermore, it tied the hands of our teachers by giving them a rigid curriculum that, while preparing students for a standardized test, left them grossly unprepared for the rigors of a college education.
Other states have also failed under No Child Left Behind. New Mexico, the latest state to receive a waiver, had a 90 percent failure rate under federal standards, according to The Huffington Post.
While other factors may be at play, clearly the rigid standards of No Child Left Behind did little to raise New Mexico’s educational profile.
This also shows that this state, and others, must be free to set their own educational standards.
As more states apply for, and hopefully receive, waivers from No Child Left Behind, I look forward to state governments being able to take back their educational systems.
With this freedom, they can concentrate their education dollars, as scant as they may be, on issues relevant to their state’s educational system.
Also, by allowing the states the power to tailor their educational standards to the needs of the students within their borders, they will cease with this one-size-fits-all nonsense.
I look forward to the time that states no longer have to teach to the test and are able to teach students with an eye toward college and career, which is a plan all states applying a waiver must submit for review in order to receive one.
While I understand the merit behind former President George W. Bush’s plan, the rigid standards did little to nothing to help the country improve its quality of education.
College and careers are not a series of standardized tests, and it’s about time our teachers are freed from teaching as if they are.
As Obama stated in reference to this move, “What might work in Minnesota might not work in Kentucky.”
In fact, it hasn’t worked at all.
“Class Dismissed” is a weekly column critiquing education in America.

Email jasmyn.elliott@fiusm.com

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