NCLB?Not For Me

Lisa Dolasinski
August 29, 2005

Presently, I am not eligible to vote; however the outcome of the Senate and House debates and presidential mandates directly affects me. Our president and legislative leaders would be wise to consult with America?s teens, allowing them to voice their concerns. I am passionate about education and equal opportunities for everyone; however, I do not support the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy. I feel that the government should take smaller steps to more effectively benefit the youth and spend American?s money more wisely.

Listen to this essay in Lisa Dolasinski's own voice. play audio First and foremost, there is much too little focus on the social causes of poor academic performance. Decades of investigations support the theory that school achievement is directly affected by social position. How can a child succeed if: he is hungry, has unmet health care needs, adult guidance and support is unavailable, has not had proper rest, or has inadequate housing? I am fortunate enough to be raised in a home where I am sufficiently provided for; in contrast, during the week I attend school with peers obviously not receiving proper care. This is the issue that should be focused on, not a broad, unclear program. Anyone sincerely committed to aiding the performance of a disadvantaged child should address all the basic needs and rights of adolescents initially. In 2000 President Bush promised, ?Children will receive the nutrition, physical activity experiences, and health care needed to arrive at school with healthy minds and bodies, and to maintain the mental alertness necessary to be prepared to learn.? No mention as to how this program was supposed to be funded was ever made. Ensuring the juveniles? welfare, then acting on behalf of their education should be the steps taken by the government. Bush?s initiative, while commendable, is overzealous and mistakenly over simplified.

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The Beat Within is a writing and conversation program in juvenile halls?and a weekly magazine that grows out of that program.

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In addition, there is too much focus on a narrow curriculum. Students in affluent schools, boasting good scores will continue to receive a full range of subjects including art, social studies, and science. Condemned to a second class lifestyle and education, impoverished students must put ?reading first?, missing out on a varied, enriched learning experience. With all this focus on literacy, one group is limited to a lean diet of basic skills while the other will receive the more complete diet associated with power and success in this society. Evident in my own community, wealthier schools offer a much more enticing curriculum, exciting students about learning, while schools forced to cut their budget yearly cannot possibly compete. These schools produce much less scholarly graduates, not efficiently preparing them for their future endeavors. Establishing the No Child Left Behind ideal will only continue the downward cycle for the disadvantaged youth, not break it!

Furthermore, schools who do not succeed in NCLB?s eyes are branded with a scarlet letter. Intensified testing pressure and unyielding stress is placed upon students and teachers alike to show immediate improvement, often before necessary resources arrive. If a school fails to show progress with any two subjects of students for two years in a row, it must be identified as ?needing improvement.? This type of school is seen as failing, and it does not reflect well on the students or administration. This is especially harmful for schools today because parents of children at a school ?needing improvement? are now given the option to abandon the school, opting to send them to private or charter school. My parents are not prepared to send me to a second class school, sacrificing my education; the NCLB program will only hurt schools more by depleting their funding as enrollment plummets. The idea of labeling schools has a negative effect on the youth, emotionally traumatizing them.

Be sure to check out all the winning essays from CFK's 2005 contest:

Through the Eyes of the Future by Caitlin Hillyard

Teen Speaks Out on Education, War, and More by Alex Morse

The Reality of No Child Left Behind by Keisha Mitchell

NCLB...Not For Me

As a student myself, I believe that the ?No Child Left Behind? program lacks beneficial substance. I feel that there are much more worthwhile projects to implement in schools across the nation. Please, President Bush, give the local communities back the right to administer and design their own educational curriculums. They can best assess the needs of their constituents and design effective programs. The government needs to take smaller steps in reforming educational policies, not make extravagant promises it cannot keep.


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