Photo: Darren McCollester/ Getty
10 years ago this month, President Bush signed the largest federal education reform legislation in decades, No Child Left Behind.
NCLB had all the buzzwords of the “education reform” movement of the time: increased standards, accountability for teachers and schools. It tied funding to achievement in standardized tests.It made small attempts to create “school choice” along the edge of the public-school system. And it was bipartisan; led by a Republican president, along with the Senate’s liberal lion, Ted Kennedy.
Far from creating a consensus about American education, NCLB was met with scepticism from all sides of the political spectrum. Demands for a change in the system have only intensified.
A major economic crisis in the states has brought about teacher layoffs, and a growing anti-teachers union movement. Alternatives to public school like charter schools, and new home-schools and cooperative independent schools continue to grow, slowly.
Even the emphasis on preparing young people for college is being challenged as the value of a degree seems to go down in the marketplace, while the burdens of student debt grow. The debate has never been more open, or seemed more urgent than it does right now.
So this month we’re soliciting some of the voices of reform, experts in education policy, and educators themselves and asking two simple questions. What is wrong with American education? What can we do to fix it?
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