Our nation’s burden?

On my recent post regarding the top 10 changes to NCLB recommended by our National Teacher of the Year team, I wrote:

I’ve been mentally wrestling with an interesting question since seeing this list a few weeks back: If we could only guarantee that one of these critical changes would be adopted, which one would you argue in favor of?

Mike–one of my regular readers–pushed my thinking into an entirely new direction when he wrote:

If each and every one of these was implemented, we’d be more snowed under with federal mandates and control than we are now. The federal government has no business whatever raining down mandates on local school districts. Can anyone in their right mind imagine that the involvement of the feds will be helpful?

If NCLB and all federal education mandates went away, magically, immediately, what would be the effect on the classroom teacher in Anywhere, USA? At worse, nothing; at best, things would become easier.

What’s interesting to me is that until Mike posted his thoughts, I had just taken it for granted that federal control over education was a part of the new reality of teaching in America.  Now I’m left to wonder if our efforts to revise NCLB are misguided.

Should we instead focus on scrapping it completely?  After all, federal mandates—tied to support funding for Title 1 schools—are becoming the focal point for educational decisions despite a Constitution that places control for education in the hands of state governments.

But in many ways, NCLB has brought a measure of standardization to our nation’s schools that mirrors the educational systems of successful nations overseas.  While state control of education fits our nation’s founding belief that decisions should be made by those closest to the local community, new measures of consistency set by Washington have drawn attention to educational inequalities that had gone overlooked for decades.

So where do you stand on NCLB?  Has it become our nation’s burden?  Should we return to a time when states and districts made decisions about what was best for the children in their communities?  Or is NCLB a nobel—yet flawed—policy that is simply in need of revision?

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