We have the resources, the funders and the connections as a wealthy nation, yet 70% of eighth graders in America can’t read at an 8th grade level and most won’t catch up, according to the National Assessment for Educational Progress 2007. What is happening to our education system?
As a recent returning Peace Corps Volunteer, I saw the results of the symptomatic problems in Philippines education system first hand. But what is more shocking to me is to find the same inefficiency and mismanagement in my own country.
But I don’t believe there is one part of government, institutional organization or group to blame. We are all responsible.
Since Lyndon Johnson passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, there has been federal funding allotted to our public schools. The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act was to reauthorize the commitment to public education by creating a system of accountability. Unfortunately, the NCLB failed to produce the resources to enable schools to meet higher standards. Our country obviously needed a longer time table before putting new testing standards into effect.
Currently, there is a bill, S.2001 All Students Can Achieve Act, which may offer schools the funding for further development. No progress was made to move the bill forward after August 2007. Hopes are that Obama will request congress to reintroduce the NCLB Act in legislative session in 2009.
But my main concern is that in the flurry of excitement following the 44th president’s first months, when he has the most leeway with his congress, that this act is in fact, reintroduced. WE can’t let our troubled economy distract us from holding our president-elect and his congress accountable for all the promises they’ve made to us.
But the role of change in our education system during the next four years isn’t the responsibility of just legislators. That’s where our role as voters and constituents comes in. As voters we need to demand accountability from our legislators. We need to write our senators, representatives and actively lobby for change. We need to entreat special interest groups and educational organizations such as International Institute of Education, Strong American Schools, National Education Association to push government to present a reformation of the NCLB. We need to talk to our PTA, teachers, principals and members on the Board of Education to ensure the changes that happen in the next four years include positive changes in our education system.
This is the year for change, America. What are you going to do about it?