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Outdated Electronics and an Outdated Education Law

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March 11, 2011 02:30 pm


Have you ever bought a new phone only to find out a week later that a newer and better version exists? Or perhaps it was a camera, or a computer, or even an e-reader? Best Buy captured this frustrating phenomenon in a recent commercial for its Buy Back Program, explaining “technology moves fast” which, in some cases, seems like an understatement.

In 2001, the same year that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was drafted, Kyocera introduced its “all-in-one” device, boasting that customers no longer had to “carry a pager, phone, and personal digital assistant.” The company advertised features such as call history, a calculator, speed dial, contact directory, 2-way messaging, email and web (depending on service), and a speakerphone! Just a decade later, almost every new phone on the market has all of these applications and more − much more.


The new iPhone allows users to record videos, take pictures, find recipes, get directions, and group chat; the list goes on and on. According to the latest count, there are more than 350,000 iPhone applications available. However, how many improvements have been made upon the main federal law governing public education? Put simply, NCLB is a compact disc in an iPod world.

Whether or not 82 percent of the nation’s public schools are labeled “failing” under NCLB, as the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan predicted this week, one thing is clear, we need an upgrade.

NCLB has driven gains in the early grades and highlighted large achievement gaps between students, but it has largely ignored a high school dropout crisis that claims more than one million students every year. After nearly ten years of implementation, we know NCLB’s limitations and how to address them. By passing a new version of the law, the Congress can address the aspects of NCLB that time, experience, and research have shown need to be significantly improved or updated while doing more to help ensure that every student graduates from high school prepared for college and a career.

The nation’s future generations deserve a new version of NCLB that holds states, districts, and schools accountable for actually graduating high schools students ready for college and careers—not simply requiring students to be “proficient” in basic skills. It is also important that the new version of the law supports states and districts in using student data to assist teachers, education leaders, and policymakers to make decisions regarding the best reform and intervention methods. And to make all of these advancements possible, the federal funding stream must be strengthened for middle and high schools.

The nation is already asking students and teachers to succeed in high schools that were designed fifty years ago for an era that has long since passed. Asking them to operate under the confines of a ten-year old law only adds to the burden. Students and teachers deserve a new, improved version of NCLB, not an outdated version designed for yesteryear’s consumers.


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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.