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The Federal Artificial Classroom This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Imagine being forced to do something you truly aren’t capable of doing. Imagine being so accustomed to D’s and C’s that you never aspire for anything better. Imagine it’s not just your classmates and teachers telling you you’re not good enough, it’s your own government. On January 8th, 2002, George Bush ratified the No Child Left Behind Act that required special education children to take standardized tests with mainstream children, and for schools to reach a mandatory proficiency (Jewell,1). Due to that, there have been disputes over whether or not the act is suitable and fair to children with disabilities, teachers, and mainstream children. This issue has been raging in every school district in the country. That is to say, that the American Federal Government should abolish the No Child Left Behind Act as it can lead to the government taking control of schools even though it is the state’s responsibility, it creates overwhelming pressure for special education students to achieve proficiency, and if a proficiency is not met on a government state test more children are classified as “disabled”, affecting the child’s life forever.

The No Child Left Behind Act [NCLB Act] increases the chance that the federal government can seize control of schools that don’t meet the Adequate Yearly Progress goal, [AYP] therefore greatly increasing taxes. Over the years, if AYP is not met, students have the option to choose another school in the district, be provided with special help, replace faculty, and the school convert to a charter school (Jewell, 1). When the government interferes with state responsibilities it creates an Abbott District and disables choice from community, and local district decision makers. The federal government shouldn’t get involved with education because it is the state’s duty to do so. The more involved the national government is the more taxes increase due to the government sucking Americans dry to fund their agenda. This isn’t fair to the tax payers and the teachers because they have no direct say. Furthermore, it is impossible to change federal programs overall (Weller, 25). Once a government takes over a school there is no chance of returning to an individually run, neighborhood elementary or middle school. The No Child Left Behind Act leads to a greater chance that the national government overtakes a school, feeding into the issue of his/her taxes.

Needless to say, the NCLB Act forces special education to work under excessive pressure to reach an unrealistic level they can’t possibly attain. When asked, Mrs. C. Spelman, an eighth grade teacher at Sparta Middle School, stated, “The NCLB law is ineffective in the American classroom because instead of facilitating children to attain the same set of academic standards, it serves to deprive children of intellectual freedom. Even more troubling is the reality that there is a population of students who are unable to reach these goals which is punitive and downright unfair.” (Spelman). Because of this law, the government insisted upon a rule to allow one out of the total amount of grade level special education students to be given a slightly different standardized test to take, appropriate for them. This is extremely hard to accomplish, and the classified students who are not in that “1 percent cap”, has to acquire a state test that mainstream students sit for, and for those individuals the test is very difficult to accommodate (Jewell, 2). Also, classified students are still falling behind, and being placed in special education because this year’s percentage statewide of 15.2% when surpasses than the nationwide percentage at 13% last year (Chute, 1). The more classified children pressured to succeed proficiency in assessments because of the NCLB Act the more children become classified or remediated. Ellen Rivera, an elementary school teacher of Forrest School, in Fair Lawn states, “I personally think that the NCLB Act has created an artificial environment in every classroom. Teachers are all consumed with teaching only to the test, regardless of current curriculum or best practices.” (Rivera). The No Child Left Behind Act compels special education children to work beyond what their capable of doing, and evaluates them from there to the negation of real learning.

On the contrary, special education students appear to feel equal, are graded equally, and pushed to do more. Since the 1980’s, the annual dropout rate dropped 10% (Weller, 27). This means that special education children were pushed to do more beyond their capabilities, leading to staying in school. However, if a undergraduate doesn’t reach proficiency on a state test in reading and math they are considered “disabled”, and this could interfere with the child’s life choices forever. Evaluators from the council of Great City Schools said, “It was clear to the team…that too many teachers and staff members were using special education as an escape hatch when they did not know what else to do with the students who were experiencing learning or behavioral problems,” (Chute, 1). Many teachers just stamp their students with “classified” to make an excuse for their non-performance. This increases the need for services and a higher tax rate. Just because the NCLB Act proclaims that every child, special ed. or not, has to reach a proficiency on a test; the outcome of failing to do so, is children being diagnosed with needing IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This is an effect of poor reading or mathematics schooling in the past (Weller, 23). After being classified, students end up being placed in special education, and the word, “classified” is permanently placed in the child’s file forever. This will limit the choices of vocation these students will pursue. This act has ruined the outcome of many students’ life, education, and capability
to actually believe in themselves, and to their ability to succeed.

In the end, the No Child Left Behind Act should be annulled due to the national government manipulating schools, and violating the state’s obligation to mandate schools, generates pressure on students who don’t perform well academically and classifiably as being “disabled” , as a cause of getting a below proficiency on a state test would change a child’s future drastically. The government should drop the No Child Left Behind Act due to the inequality and iniquitousness to children and educators everywhere. “Its not leaving them behind, its working them to their ability.” (Kopp).



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CarrieAnn13 said...
Jun. 18, 2011 at 6:32 pm:
Wow, I never realized how much trouble American schools are in because of this policy.  I can't imagine all that standardized testing American children go through because of it.  Here in Canada (at least in Saskatchewan) we have two standardized tests at the end of the year until we reach high school.  Good article!
 
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