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ERIC Number: EJ932760
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0895-6855
School Reform We Can't Believe In
Karp, Stan
Rethinking Schools, v24 n3 p48-53 Spr 2010
While running for president, Barack Obama called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) "one of the emptiest slogans in the history of American politics." By the time he gets a new version of the law through Congress, his own campaign theme--"change you can believe in"--may be a contender for the same title. In fact, if the healthcare debate is any guide and the reform ideas being floated by the current administration are ultimately adopted, the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, still commonly known as NCLB, could make a bad law worse. The administration hopes to move a reauthorization bill this year, but Congressional divisions and election year politics make that doubtful. The current law will remain in effect until it's replaced. It will also continue to trap growing numbers of schools in its test and punish dragnet as the 2014 deadline nears for its unreachable goal of 100 percent pass rates on state tests. Over 30,000 schools, nearly a third of all public schools, are already on the "needs improvement" list. Unless the law is changed, most of the rest will follow. In the heady days surrounding Obama's inauguration, many political observers predicted a new era of reform and social progress akin to the presidencies of FDR in the '30s and LBJ in the '60s. Instead, what people have seen so far recalls the corporate neoliberalism of Bill Clinton and the conservative "populism" of Ronald Reagan. But the problem isn't just the narrow political vision and corporate allegiances of Obama, Arne Duncan, and company. It's the fading of the popular mobilization that at times gave Obama's campaign the feel of a social movement. What pushed FDR to the New Deal were the powerful labor and left-wing movements of the '30s. In the '60s, it was civil rights and antiwar struggle that fueled LBJ's expanded social agenda. That's the kind of energy democratic school reform--and the country--needs.
Rethinking Schools, Ltd. 1001 East Keefe Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53212. Tel: 414-964-9646; Fax: 414-964-7220; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001