March 2, 2006 Extra Credit
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March 2, 2006

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No Child Left Behind Yields Positive Results

The following letter to the editor appeared in USA Today (3/2/06):

"Don Campbell ‘buried the lead’ in his commentary criticizing the No Child Left Behind Act (‘Education, chutzpah and the GOP,’ The Forum, Feb. 23). Campbell waited until the third-to-last paragraph to reveal his true feelings: ‘Not all children can perform’ at grade level because they ‘live in such dysfunctional or impoverished environments.’

"This attitude - the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations,’ in the president's words - is exactly why we need the No Child Left Behind Act. The law, supported overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans alike, is finally ending the practice of shuffling schoolchildren along from grade to grade regardless of whether they've mastered the material.

"The law is working as advertised, as Campbell reluctantly admits. Math scores in the earlier grades are at all-time highs, and the ‘achievement gaps’ between white, Hispanic and African-American 9-year-olds have reached historic lows.

"But we're changing more than numbers. We're changing behavior. The result can be seen in schools such as Maury Elementary in Alexandria, Va. In 2004, just two out of five third-graders passed the state's reading test. Some parents transferred their children to better-performing schools. This wake-up call was just what was needed. A new principal and teachers were hired, the school met its academic goals and enrollment is now up 20%.

"Campbell believes that schools and students cannot change and therefore should not be ‘stigmatized’ by accountability. What a pessimistic view of the world. In truth, a student who falls behind one year can surge ahead the next.

"The No Child Left Behind Act gives students a chance to do better by helping schools to do their best."

Margaret Spellings
U.S. Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education


"We all have to work together in this"

The following article, excerpted below, appeared in the Salem Statesman Journal (OR) (2-26-06):

"…The fourth annual No Child Left Behind conference at McKay High School brought together community groups, parents, students and educators to plot a course to college and beyond.

"Sponsored by the Salem-Keizer School District and the Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality, the series of workshops was aimed at helping parents help their children get the most out of their education.

"Among the topics covered were strategies to help students improve math and reading at home, parenting skills, keeping youths away from risky behavior, navigating the programs available in secondary education and preparing for college. Presentations and materials were made in Spanish and English, and translators were available in Russian, Vietnamese, Marshallese and sign language…."

"‘This is making parents feel like they are welcome in school and that we want them to be actively involved,’ Speck said. ‘We all have to work together in this.’…"

"‘Every time I see a parent go to a meeting, it shows a commitment to their children,’ he said. ‘And to removing the obstacles they have to face in education.’"


About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013