House Education Committee: No Child Left Behind Act Is Not Fair

In a July 30 speech centered on reforming the No Child Left Behind Act, Rep. George Miller, House Education Committee chair, acknowledged that the nation's education law isn't working and proposed to do something about it.

Problems with the No Child Left Behind Act

  • In a recent national survey conducted by Teacher's Network, a non-profit education organization, only 3 percent of teachers feel NCLB helps them teach better. (
  • 71 percent of elementary school districts surveyed have been forced to cut back or eliminate subject instruction in order to make more time for reading and math. (Center on Public Education)
  • Standardized test results aren't an exact science and do not properly assess teachers' effectiveness in the classroom. (
  • Special education students must take the same test as other students. (
  • Under the rules of the NCLB law, faith-based charter schools can receive public funding--a clear violation of separation of church and state. (

'Throughout our schools and communities, the American people have a very strong sense that the No Child Left Behind Act is not fair, that it is not flexible, and that it is not funded. And they are not wrong,' says Rep. George Miller (D), chairman of the House education committee.

Miller offered up this surprisingly honest view in a July 30 speech about education reform, adding that while NCLB has had a positive impact, the law hasn't been right from the start.

Fixing the Act

A bill to renew the No Child Left Behind Act will come before the House this fall. Miller said during the speech that he hopes the law is renewed...with a few changes.

To start, Miller wants to see incentives for states to develop programs that meet the needs of 21st-century learners. He also has ideas about increased funding, merit-pay for teachers, and new ways to measure a school's success.

Some of his ideas will no doubt be met with criticisms. There are many teachers' organizations and education non-profits that vehemently oppose merit-pay in schools. There is also the question of where the funding will come from.

Scrapping the Act

Some NCLB critics, like Alfie Kohn, argue that the law is completely 'unredeemable' and should be tossed out immediately.

'This law cannot be fixed by sanding its rough edges. It must be replaced with a policy that honors local autonomy, employs better assessments, addresses the root causes of inequity and supports a rich curriculum. The question isn't how to save NCLB; it's how to save our schools - and kids - from NCLB,' says Kohn.

There are many other organizations who agree with this assessment. In a letter to Congress, 129 civil rights and education organizations deplore NCLB's extreme emphasis on test scores and punitive action.

There are a number of independent websites and petitions that have cropped up since the inception of NCLB that make it very clear that a large percentage of the population doesn't agree with the current method of measuring achievement.

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