Tuesday, October 11, 2005

NCLB helps those in need

The point of the No Child Left Behind Act (a project which former MN Education Commissioner Cheri Yecke worked on for the White House) is close the achievement gap and to make sure the disadvantaged get the assistance they need. Unfortunately, Democrats, deep in the pockets of teacher unions, are adamant in the opposition to the NCLB. As this Washington Post article suggests, maybe teachers could actually close the achievement gap if they directed their energy to reforming education rather than fighting NCLB.
Once Stephen started at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring, she said, "his considerable charm, as well as appropriate aide support, won over the hearts and minds of the staff and students. He has always had a teacher request to have him in his or her class." The transition to Briggs Chaney Middle School, where Stephen is a seventh grader, also went well, she said.

When No Child Left Behind took effect, it had little impact on Sabia or her son because he already had access to regular classes and highly qualified teachers with high expectations. "However," Sabia said, "I recognized that NCLB would institutionalize a process that would promote all these things for students with disabilities, whether or not their parents were in the position to advocate for them through IDEA."

"This is critically important," she said. "People always treated Stephen's academic success as evidence that he is extraordinary for a child with DS instead of recognizing that he is an ordinary child with DS--except in our eyes--who has had extraordinary opportunities to maximize his potential. The opportunities he has had will hopefully become commonplace under NCLB and then people will see that many kids with DS and other significant disabilities can learn and achieve much more than previously believed.

"At national conferences I have seen that some teachers and administrators are beginning to see that segregating students with disabilities in classes without access to the general education curriculum or highly qualified--content trained--teachers is partly to blame for the achievement gap," she said. "Unfortunately other teachers and administrators are spending more time fighting NCLB than they are spending on narrowing this gap.
(Source: Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2005)


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