No Child Left Behind

Published 1:32 pm Friday, January 21, 2005

By By MARTA BRILL / Niles Daily Star
NILES - No one can argue that No Child Left Behind Act has the best possible intentions, said Doug Law, superindendent of Niles Community Schools.
This act, signed into law by President George W. Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, aims to increase the accountability of educators for create better results in our nation's schools.
First Lady Laura Bush says she hopes to make expanding the No Child Left Behind program the hallmark of her work during her husband's second term.
Unfortunately, he added, the No Child Left Behind Act comes with a thousand-page list of rules and procedures and no funding to help educators put them into practice.
It raises the question, should the federal goverment, which gives little money to schools, attempt to exercise so much control over the schools' definition of a successful education?
Currently, the standards set by No Child Left Behind for what constitutes a highly-qualified teacher is different from the State of Michigan certification standards. Under the new legislation, teachers would only be allowed to teach their college major, regardless of their classroom experience. They would be required to take classes and exams to meet these new standards.
No Child Left Behind also places emphasis on standardized tests. The scores of a school's Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) test determine student achievement. If a certain percentage of students do not receive an acceptable score on the MEAP test, there are a series of punative actions.
Yet, the MEAP test was never meant to test individual student acheivement, said Law. It was designed as a benchmark for educators evaluating curriculum.
Also, since not every state has the same test, not every state is being held to the same standards. It is likely that the MEAP test is more difficult than the tests being given in other states.
The goal of No Child Left Behind is to have every chlld pass every test by 2013. Schools wlll most likely not meet this unreachable goal, Law said, and the failure will be discouraging to administrators, teachers, and families.
The overall philosophy behind No Child Left Behind is commendable because it requires educators to sit back and reflect if they are truly doing everthing they can for every kid, said Law. But with the funding of our nation's schools in crisis, No Child Left Behind adds extra hassle without extra money.
Proposal A, passed in 1994, raised the sales tax from 4 percent to 6 percent and reorganized school funding in Michigan. Now, the majority of funds come from state sales tax, as opposed to community property tax. If the economy is booming, sales tax is an excellent source of funding. When the economy is in a recession, such as in recent years, sales tax is an unreliable source.
In recent years, Niles Community Schools has received 60 to 70 fewer dollars per student than promised by state legislators, according to Law. Three million dollars have been cut from the budget, and since salaries make up nearly 85 percent of the budget, that money has had to come from the remaining 15 percent of funds.