No Child Left Behind – It’s Working

Presiden’t Bush’s much vilified No Child Left Behind Act appears to be working, at least that’s the conclusion drawn from reading this story in today’s Providence Journal.

More than half of Rhode Island’s public schools have jumped into the high-performing category, and school leaders across the state say that’s in no small part due to the strict goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind law — and the sanctions schools face if they don’t meet those goals.

Among the schools, 166 are now classified as high fliers, up from 89 last year. Schools also showed marked improvement at the other end of the spectrum: 84 are ranked as in need of improvement, compared with 119 last year.

I previewed these results last week (my first scoop!). What can be taken from this is that challenging teachers and students to meet established and well-defined standards is effective in influencing outcome. Of course there will be complaints, but that is because all of us, to different degrees, resist change. It appears as if the changes endorsed and implemented as a result of the NCLB Act are making things better. Accountability is a good thing after all.

Perhaps we in Rhode Island can take this as an object lesson. We need to realize that our penchant for habitually voting for the same people to the same political offices only sends the message that we accept past transgressions: that everything is fine. No matter how loud we may howl when examples of patronage, payoffs or corruption slap us in the face, change will never occur unless we rid our government of those who enable and contribute to such an atmosphere. Joe E. Democrat, the guy you grew up with, may be a nice guy, but he is beholden to his party leaders and will always toe the line when told. On his own, he may not be a “problem,” but as a part of the larger group, he contributes to the attitude of entitlement held by the ruling political class in the Ocean State. He may be a nice guy, but don’t all enablers appear to “care”? At some point, personal relationships have to be separated from what is good for the state.

The biggest way to create political change is via the ballot box, something we conservatives and advocates for change failed (again) to accomplish a couple of weeks ago. (Though some believe signs of hopefulness are evident.) With the help of Governor Carcieri, Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, and (dare I say), the mantra of change will spread and take deeper roots. Maybe the example of the NCLB Act and the determination of teachers, students and parents to do better will spill over into other arenas. Right now, the biggest arena is the coliseum that is Rhode Island Politics. Some of us have entered to face the lions. Will we be mere martyrs or will we survive, led by some Spartacus-like figure (who won’t get killed 😉 to implement lasting change?

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.