Why people like (or hate) NCLB, what might happen next - and what won't

A few thoughts about NCLB came out of a talk on the law that I led at North Kenwood Oakland charter school last week, courtesy of the New Teachers Network and the Center on Urban School Improvement:

1 - A lot of people opposed to NCLB take that position on instinct as much as anything else. To paraphrase a recent New Yorker article on British views of the EU, "Nobody knows what NCLB looks like, but they nonetheless feel morally impelled to state that, whatever it is, they don't like it."

2 - Critics of NCLB generally see good schools and teachers being held back or stymied by the law’s requirements, while proponents generally see bad schools getting a much-needed nudge forward. If you like what you see in your teacher, your classroom, your school, you probably don’t like NCLB. If you are frustrated or dismayed with what you see in schools, you are probably for it.

3 - In broad strokes, what happens next with school reform at the national level can probably be boiled down into just three main possibilities: continued refinement of the standards-and-accountability mechanisms in NCLB, some sort of rollback to an earlier era when states and districts set their own standards and requirements, or an expansion of the choice/competition/vouchers approach that is currently only a small part of the law. While desired by many educators, a fourth option -- a world largely without standards and accountability or charters and vouchers -- seems highly unlikely.


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