No Child Left Behind? My Opinion

By Pam Marshalla

No Child Left Behind logoQ: What do you think of the “no-child-left-behind” perspective so pervasive in the schools today?

How is it possible that a teacher or therapist could guarantee to leave no child behind?  There always have been and there always will be people left behind.  That’s is how life is, and no matter what ideal pie-in-the-sky philosophy one has, one cannot leave the facts of life out of the equation.

For example, when it comes to hard sciences like chemistry and physics, I definitely was left behind. But I am not moaning about it. I found something else to occupy my time, something more fitting to who I am and what I am able to understand and accomplish.  To blame someone else about being left behind in these subjects seems to be ridiculous and unhelpful to the education community. Why is it anyone else’s problem that I could not keep up?

The no-child-left-behind philosophy makes victims of us all, it takes away our power to be ourselves, and it leaves school children at the mercy of their teachers. “I couldn’t do it because the teacher was no good.”  This is the thinking one finds within the prison community––it’s someone else’s fault. Well, I happen to disagree.

Some children will learn to read the great literature of the ages but others only will learn how to recite the ABCs.  Some children will learn math at a fantastic level, others will only be able to count to ten.  Some children will go on to be Olympic athletes and others will barely learn how to walk. This is life as we know it here on planet Earth.  Every person is worth respect and honor and love, but not everyone will win a gold medal.  In my opinion, no-child-left-behind is a dream that doesn’t really fit the facts of life.

Edited to add: I found this cartoon to be relevant.

Schools today vs 1960's
Click for full-size.

6 thoughts on “No Child Left Behind? My Opinion”

  1. Absolutely true. This philosophy is just a form of social engineering. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. There is no need for a federal department of education. Teachers and parents can handle education fine without being told what to do.

  2. At our school, No Child Left Behind means that my daughter, who has learning disabilities and severe apraxia is graded on the same scale as all the other 1st graders in the school. So no matter how hard she tries, or how much improvement she makes, she will always be at the bottom of the curve. We do not show her report card to her, but I dread the day when she asks to see it. What could be worse for her self esteem?

  3. Laura- I understand your situation and your dilemma. But we all must face our true selves. I got straight As in math all the way through school, until I got a D in calculus my freshman year in college. That D taught me I was heading in the wrong direction, and I changed course. The same types of things happened in other ways when I was younger- I couldn’t play golf but I could do a great somersault, so I headed into gymnastics. I couldn’t paint, but I could read, so I ended up being a writer. My brother was the opposite– he could read but he didn’t like it. He loved to draw, paint, and build, so he ended up being a designer. Everyone has gifts and I think one of the purposes of life is to discover one’s gifts and to use them. Let everything else fall away. This is just the personal philosophy that has helped me through my life.

  4. Could not agree more!!! Thank you!!! The problem is we have people who have no clue about development and education who are making these ridiculous decisions.

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