In Education Week, James Guthrie, a Vanderbilt education and public policy professor, responds to Nel Noddings, a Stanford education professor, who wrote earlier that No Child Left Behind is “bad law.” Noddings offers no evidence to back her assertions, writes Guthrie, and no ideas to do more than spend more money doing what’s already failed.
What is the damage being done to students’ psyches by testing? If there is such damage to children, however unlikely, is it any worse than the damage ultimately triggered from being promoted to the next grade regardless of academic performance? Why are negative sanctions for schools with sustained records of failure bad? Would it be better to ignore their failings and simply continue to pay adults who routinely contribute to students’ failure? What is the link between a restricted range of curriculum offerings and the No Child Left Behind Act? Simply because the law emphasizes reading and mathematics does not mean that it prohibits other subjects.
. . . Ms. Noddings concludes with an unusual twist of logic. She asserts that the No Child Left Behind Act promotes a culture of corruption because educators are called upon to test students and report progress. What of the converse? Is it not possible that the absence of appraisal conceals corruption, obscures a school’s failure to perform?