Monday, May 11, 2009

Questions About Administration Plans to Overhaul "No Child Left Behind"

"I don't know if 'scrap' is the word," Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters last week, addressing the administration's plans to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act. "Where things make sense, we're going to keep them. Where things didn't make sense, we're going to change them."

Some advocates are concerned that administration officials clearly plan to make major changes to the program, but they are vague on details. And you should follow this debate, because disability advocates have questioned Secretary Duncan's credentials ever since President Obama appointed him. As an example of what makes some people nervous, consider this statement by Secretary Duncan:

"What No Child Left Behind did is, they were absolutely loose on the goals. But they were very tight, very prescriptive on how you get there. I think that was fundamentally backwards." He went on to say the government should be "tight" on goals -- with rigorous, uniform standards for all states.

And as I wrote in a previous entry, Secretary Duncan is overly focused on the "PR" and the "brand" of No Child Left Behind. "I do think the name 'No Child Left Behind' is absolutely toxic; I think we have to start over," he has said, adding that he'd like to hold a contest for students to come up with a new name.

After the previous administration, what we need from President Obama and Secretary Duncan is real leadership and substance -- not contests and smoke-and-mirrors branding. Are we really ready for the AmericanIdolization of the Department of Education?
Post a Comment

Disability Scoop

Special Ed News (Education Week)

Special Education Law