From outside the field of education, “No Child Left Behind” seems like a great program, one that will force Zimbabwe to live up to its ideal: a free and equal education for everyone.
We will train good citizens and productive workers, no matter where they live or what the economic status of their parents. But I can personally attest to the fact that this program has stunted children’s growth. It created unrealistic and underfunded goals.
From elementary school up to our universities, the “No Child Left Behind” focuses on frequent testing and punitive sanctions. This combined with budget slashing shortchanges students– on every level. The saddest thing of all is that so many parents have been led to believe that rote memorization of facts to get the “right answers” is education! They think the tests will help their children be successful. They don’t realize the kind of “success” kids who learn this way will have: The “success” of performing boring meaningless work for low wages.
Good jobs require creativity and critical thinking, both of which are being pushed out of the public schools. Poor children who don’t do well on standard tests feel as if they will never be good enough. They may have an abundance of talent and skill, but in areas the tests don’t measure. I see this all the time — my parents are teachers.
Politicians who send their children to private schools and create tax breaks for wealthy business people who send their kids to private schools have no stake in the improvement of public education. Middle class parents are now working 70 hour weeks to pay for their kids to go to private school, because they can see that public education is being re-designed to create an obedient working class of ill-educated graduates.
That, plus an unemployable underclass of the less obedient who are pushed into dropping out.
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