Thursday, August 23, 2007

Leaving Every Child Behind

He is exceptionally smart. He’s funny, and popular, and he can rebuild an engine in a matter of hours. He plays golf, and won contests every year of high school for the furniture he built in his wood shop class.

It’s a shame he will never graduate from high school.

HE is one of the many victims of a bill designed, ostensibly, to improve education. Naming a law No Child Left Behind implies the very best of intentions. Of course we should not leave children behind. All children are created equal, and every child deserves the opportunity for a quality education. The problem is not in these noble concepts themselves; the problem is with their interpretation. The intent has been lost in the implementation.

Equality is a matter of value, not characteristic. As anyone who has read A Wrinkle in Time can tell you, LIKE and EQUAL are not the same. All children are created equally valuable, with equal rights and responsibilities. Therein lies the fundamental problem with NCLB – it assumes all children have to same interest’s the same abilities, and the same needs. Fortunately, not all children are alike, but by ignoring that basic fact the proponents of NCLB are doing an inexcusable disservice to the very children they intend to protect, along with thousands of teachers, administrators, and parents who have to somehow find a way to push children through an educational system that has suddenly become intractable, where children who fail to fit the mold are inexorably and tragically left behind.

All children are valuable, and all children deserve an education. By destroying the ability of educators to respond to the inherent differences in children, NCLB is slowly denying more and more children that right.

He could have told you that.

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