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Descripción de editorial
Signed into law in 2002, the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) promised to revolutionize American public education. Originally supported by a bipartisan coalition, it purports to improve public schools by enforcing a system of standards and accountability through high-stakes testing. Many people supported it originally, despite doubts, because of its promise especially to improve the way schools serve poor children. By making federal funding contingent on accepting a system of tests and sanctions, it is radically affecting the life of schools around the country.
But, argue the authors of this citizen's guide to the most important political issue in education, far from improving public schools and increasing the ability of the system to serve poor and minority children, the law is doing exactly the opposite. Here some of our most prominent, respected voices in education-including school innovator Deborah Meier, education activist Alfie Kohn, and founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools 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
* And they put forward a richly articulated vision of alternatives.
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.
In this slim but impassioned manifesto, the founding members of an education think tank argue that the controversial and underfunded No Child Left Behind Act, as currently implemented, is "more likely to undermine the nation's public education system than to improve it." The first section delineates the "baffling" and unfortunate consequences (e.g., cutting kindergarten nap time and middle school recess) of needing more time to prepare for mandated high-stakes tests. The second section looks outside the classroom at gaps in school spending, public involvement (participation on school boards has dropped from one citizen in 500 to one in 20,000) and student health (black children in Detroit, for example, are 16 times more likely to be overexposed to lead than are their white counterparts). As Alfie Kohn (Punished by Rewards) argues, built-in negative consequences make NCLB "a stalking horse for privatization." In the third section, Monty Neil, executive director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, offers alternative plans that place accountability more firmly on the shoulders of the state than on the test performance of the child. Though occasionally repetitive, this book is a clarion call for a public education that serves all children well and a reminder that our functioning democracy is at stake.