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ERIC Number: EJ781368
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0031-7217
The Road Less Traveled
McKim, Brent
Phi Delta Kappan, v89 n4 p298-299 Dec 2007
The federal journey into public education has followed a long and winding road. Most educators know that the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is simply the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which dates all the way back to 1965. In the years since its initial passage, the ESEA road has taken a number of turns and has been reauthorized many times, in various forms, under various names. In the past, ESEA was seen as a positive, supportive law, designed to help local school districts provide equitable and adequate education to children who face challenging and expensive hurdles to learning. About five years ago, ESEA reached a fork in the road, and the decision was made to go down the very different NCLB road. This new path was carved out of the landscape by the kind of high-stakes accountability that is based on inexpensive standardized tests and comes with an extremely narrow focus on low-level knowledge and skills. In addition, NCLB replaces decision making by those closest to the students in the school community (e.g., teachers, parents, school boards, and site-based councils) with rigid control by the federal government. The NCLB path has been fraught with numerous unintended consequences. Most fundamentally, NCLB fails to address the needs of the whole child and reduces the guiding purpose of public education from the development of effective and contributing citizens to an unending quest for higher scores on tests that cannot assess what is valued most in a democratic society--things like critical and creative thinking, problem solving, effective and persuasive communication, cooperation, perseverance, caring, respect, and appreciation for diversity. As NCLB comes up for reauthorization this year, the author urges well-meaning policy makers not to make the same mistakes again. He asks that a path in federal education policy that actually promotes good instructional practices that empower the whole child be created. This time, they must take the road less traveled and learn from those committed educators around the world who have managed to blaze a different trail of learning and school improvement for their students. (Contains 1 note.)
Phi Delta Kappa International. 408 North Union Street, P.O. Box 789, Bloomington, IN 47402-1789. Tel: 800-766-1156; Fax: 812-339-0018; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001