Friday, September 5, 2008

Policy Philosophies of NCLB

No Child Left Behind, in terms of Bozeman’s policy philosophies, is an attempt at rationalism that is unable to meet its full potential because of the influences of brokerism and egoism. The initiative is sadly anything but pragmatism or transferalism. If you do not know what these terms mean and don't feel like searching through chapter three of Bozeman's Philosophies, Management, and the Public Interest, don't worry: it should be self-evident.

NCLB attempts, and has succeeded in many ways, to raise academic standards and accountability in schools, teachers, and students. Principles of open-market competition and incentives, scientific based research, improved communication, formal evaluations, and standardized testing have been implemented as a way to intelligently improve a desperate education system. These are legitimate steps toward rationalism in public policy.

However, funding to properly incentivize teacher improvements and development have not made it to all schools, (at least the ones I’ve worked in). Similar problems are occurring with the funding of the Enhancing Education Through Technology Program. And failing teachers hide behind the impressive strength of unions. Lobbies are apparently pulling money for other interests. Unions are standing strong to protect their own. These are symptoms of brokerism. And the denial of these problems is an example of the ubiquitous presence of egoism.

Teachers are unable to adapt curriculum even under extreme circumstances. They must address the tests that, in Ohio, face students at 5th and 10th grade. Students that can’t speak English, who under-perform, or even over-perform can skew scores and thus hurt school ratings. Teachers and local government can not address these problems because of formalities imposed by NCLB: this is a lack of pragmatism.

And the greatest problem in education today is the inequality in schools. Areas with many poor, failing schools lose what little federal funding they have. This creates “sinkholes” in our public system. Meanwhile, areas with high property values and thriving schools blossom and receive the benefits of high school ratings. This is a lack of transferalism.

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