Thanks to Mercedes Schneider for bringing this article to my attention.


If you have ever wondered why Congress refuses to abandon or revise or do anything to the failed No Child Left Behind, this article explains why.


NCLB declared that all schools would have 100% proficiency by 2014. Even in 2002, after the law was signed, it was already obvious that many members of Congress did not believe that 100% proficiency was possible. As one superintendent in the article says, the law demands that immigrant children who have been in the country for one year must be 100% proficient in reading and math, and that is impossible. Others pointed out that no country in the world has 100% proficiency.


Yet Congress clings to NCLB because no one will say that some children might not be proficient. So a law that is harmful, punitive, impossible, and already a manifest failure, remains on the book.


By the year 2014, all children in grades 3-8 will be proficient in math and reading.


In 2002, I asked my former boss at the U.S. Department of Education, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, whether he believed that the goal was feasible. His answer, in a public forum at the Willard Hotel in Washington, was: “No, Diane, I don’t believe that, but it is good to have goals.” In this article, he is quoted five years later saying there is no way to abandon that impossible goal:


Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former U.S. education secretary and supporter of the law, said Americans don’t want politicians to lower standards.

“Are we going to rewrite the Declaration of Independence and say only 85 percent of men are created equal?” Alexander asked. “Most of our politics in America is about the disappointment of not meeting the high goals we set for ourselves.”


Will we ever have public officials–elected and appointed–who are willing to level with us, to recognize failure of their legislation and programs when it stares them in the face, to get out of the business of telling educators how to educate children? Will we ever have public officials who do what they were elected to do instead of meddling in institutions they do not understand and setting utopian goals that create failure, disruption, and demoralization?