That alluded to the fact; most jobs require post-secondary education. However, only 33% of the workforce had acquired bachelor’s degree education by the year 2001. So to have a qualified workforce, the Bush government signed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 into law in 2002. However, the implementation of this legislation has been marred by a lot of technicalities. The gains of the legislation are far outweighed by the challenges it poses; therefore this paper argues that the No Child Left Behind policies the education system in the wrong direction based on several grounds.
The major shortcoming to the NCLB legislation has been the federal government funding. Though the legislation considerably increased the government’s involvement in elementary education, the involvement is not sufficient. Hence, the case is that the government expects 100% accountability and performance from schools while funding the implementation to a tune of 10%. The cost of implementing NCLB is not limited to setting tests and accountability systems. It also includes the cost of hiring highly qualified and competent teachers and the cost of staging interventions for highly struggling students. Both these two extra costs do not come cheap. This is evident by the extra costs incurred by different states in implementing the legislation. For example, the extra cost incurred in Ohio due to the implementation of the bill is approximately $1.5billion in the year 2006. Today this must be considerably huge sum of money due to inflation. However, in the fiscal year 2011-2012, the government allocated a meager $0.57 billion to the state of Ohio towards the implementation of the same . Also, the cost of educating a struggling student has been approximated to be three times to that of educating an average student. Thus given the financial implications, NCLB is unsustainable as an elementary education policy.
Most schools are overtly concentrating on the core subjects stressed by the NCLB at the expense of the rest. Accountability based on the legislation is based on student’s proficiency in Mathematics and reading. Thus, in most states in the country, schools have tended to concentrate more on these subjects to be tested adversely affecting the remaining subjects that are equally as important at the workplace. According to empirical data available, 71% of elementary schools countrywide have increased time spent on the tested subject at the expense of the non-tested ones. In addition to this, 61% of the schools stipulate a specified amount of duration for reading. Of these schools, 90% are located in high poverty areas compared to 55% to 59% located in low poverty areas. The subjects most affected are physical education and social studies. As a result of this, the education system has continued to produce half-baked graduates who cannot easily adapt to the ever dynamic job market . Though the core needs of the labor market are met, the graduates lean towards being rigid. They cannot address issues related to their respective careers but not necessarily in their purview. Clearly, the legislation introduces more problems in an attempt to adequately solve the challenges at hand.
The focus of the NCLB is not only the performance of students at large but also that of students’ subgroups. Though this was meant to be a noble gesture, it has proven to be a bit problematic. The legislation categorizes students’ subgroups based on their income bracket, race and disability status. This basis is unethical as it predisposes these subgroups to stigmatization from the American society. The categorization champions for discrimination and hence to a larger extent forms the basis for racism. This negates the gains of affirmative action and human rights activism. Secondly, it is illogical for assessment of these so called subgroups to be similar to that of other students. Given the difference in students’ backgrounds, it does not make sense to subject them to the same tests. The fairness is of the legislation on this front is therefore compromised. For instance, it is irrational for the government to subject non-English speaking students to mandatory English tests. Just as Spanish and Chinese lesson are optional to English speaking students’, English should also be optional to non-English speaking students. These tests have also been found to be inappropriate for students with mental disabilities.
NCLB has a provision for students’ to go to any schools of their choice based on performance regardless of the capacity of the school. This provision has subsequently resulted to an exodus of students from low performing to high performing ones. According to the legislation, performance is based on the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Schools that have low AYPs for 5consecutive years are categorized as low performing. The presence of academically challenged students in high performing can be deemed unethical. This is because the practice totally disregards the principle of merit. It alludes wrongfully to the existence of equality regardless of performance. This has also resulted in overcrowding in high performance institutions and thus negatively affecting the quality of education in these schools .
In conclusion, the NCLB policy is unsuitable for the US education system. This is largely attributed to the fact that it is economically unsustainable. The government is reluctant in funding the implementation of the policy but over-enthusiastic in its implementation. In addition to this, the challenges posed by the implementation of the policy have significantly watered down the quality of elementary education hence subsequently worsening the situation. Thus the country is in dire need of amendments to the legislation for it is able to meet its labor market needs.
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