Opposing views of educational reform

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Reference no: EM131403713

Background Information

The authors for this issue continue the ongoing debate over the impact of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Have you, or your younger siblings or children, been impacted by the act's mandated testing and other features? Do you feel that public education has changed in fundamental ways as a result? Are these changes for the better or have they worsened the state of U.S. education? If you are planning to become an educator, has NCLB affected your feelings about your career choice? Will it contribute to your overall sense of professional satisfaction?

Ruth Conniff and Russ Walsh maintain different and sometimes opposing views of educational reform and the No Child Left Behind Act. Those arguments first appear to address specific initiatives, but as we stand-back and consider motivational rationales, the arguments actually address differing philosophies of educational system management. Both Conniff and Walsh agree that American education operates far below its potential in keeping with its ultimate objective - to enable students to maximize their learning and life potentials.

Conniff criticizes No Child Left Behind according to several weaknesses, including a foundation of mechanical busy-work that impedes creativity and learning, and in effect 'wearies' students of even a desire to learn. She would rather see interactive learning led by motivated, and well prepared instructors. She believes learning has become mechanical, boring, and void of creative energy. She advocates "...a student-centered learning environment," and states, "...the high-stakes testing approach to education is not working." Students quickly learn that their value at school is directly tied to how well they perform on government-mandated tests on math and reading, which has the effect of turning all students into reluctant learners. Educators who resist NCLB believe potentially high-performing students are soon bored with a curriculum designed only to accommodate testing, while those who struggle in school become disengaged in the face of constant failure on a narrowing set of criteria.

Walsh actually agrees with Conniff that NCLB simply does not work. However, his reluctance to embrace Conniff's position represents his resistance to "...corporate takeovers of the schools behind the rhetoric of reform." He even has serious reservations when it comes to charter schools, considering the reality to be "...corporate takeover of public schools." Corporate driven education might resolve some issues, but it may also generates additional sets of issues beyond those with which we contend today.

How important is engagement as a factor in student motivation and success? What role should electives play in a student's education? Are they nice, but inessential, add-ons? Or, might they contribute to student achievement in all areas of schooling, including those assessed through standardized testing?

What responsibility does the education system bear for creating well-rounded students able to explore a full range of their talents and interests? All these are important questions to be considered.

Do you believe NCLB and public education in general should be considered a matter of civil rights? How soon should significant progress be expected from legislation intended to produce sweeping national changes?

How do you feel about the tensions between local and federal control of education policy? If the federal government is providing money that local districts rely on, should it be granted a degree of oversight? If so, how much? How well have local districts served the best interests of students in setting their own policies and standards?

Instructions

  1. Read Unit 4, 4.5 in Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Social Issues.
  2. Navigate to the threaded discussion below and respond to the following:
    1. What are some of the main points of dispute with regard to the No Child Left Behind Act?
    2. How do you feel about some of these criticisms?
    3. In what ways can/should the Christian church help to improve the learning of children in this country?
  3. Your initial posting should be approximately 250 words in length.

Reference no: EM131403713

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