The Three Sides of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Where do you stand?
by Kris Spillman
The No Child Left Behind Act is a controversial topic causing havoc in states across the United States. Many representatives and senators are working hard to change the federal mandate so schools in their states can keep their federal funding. The federal government is trying to raise public school standards by holding schools accountable for all students including minority groups. To do this, they are making students take placement tests in core subjects. Teachers, parents, and students all have to deal with changes because of the new legislation. Classrooms are changing, and teachers are being forced to teach to the test. With the future generations’ education at stake, it is important to have an understanding of what the No Child Left Behind Act means for the education system. By examining three different texts, with three very different opinions about the No Child Left Behind Act, one can make an informed decision about his or her own opinion of the Act. An article supporting the issue, an article against it, and a middle ground article make very different claims and support their argument in different ways. The article, “Report says educational technology bolsters education”, supports the No Child Left Behind Act. The author is unknown, however the article appeared in the Hudson Valley Business Journal, and it cites a report released by the U.S. Department of Education. The author of the article seems credible because they are reporting a message from the government, but then again the No Child Left Behind Act is a national program and of course, the Department of Education is going to try to make its own program look good. The author builds ethos by quoting the previous U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and provides statistics from the report done by the Department of Education. Since the article appeared in a business journal, the intended audience is probably upper class men and women working at white-collar jobs.
Figure 1 The NECC is an education conference that is interested in helping improve education with technology.
The claim of this article is that because of the No Child Left Behind Act, education is focusing on progress and accountability so the use of technology in schools is increasing and making education improvements. There are no other claims made by the article. After making the claim, the article supports it by giving facts. It states that, “At least fifteen states provide some form of virtual schooling to supplement regular classes or provide for special needs, and about twenty-five percent of all K-12 public school now offer some form of e-learning or virtual school instruction” (“Report” par. 7). The author incorporates pathos by claiming that new technology is promoting individual learning needs and improving student teacher relationships. People reading the article can use this as a justification to see the No Child Left Behind Act as a good program for the public school system. Erik Robelen wrote the article, “Spellings Promises a Bipartisan Approach”, with a middle ground approach to the No Child Left Behind Act, and it appeared in Education Week. The author builds ethos by quoting senators, the former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, and the new Secretary Margaret Spellings. He also seems credible because he is writing to people who work in the education field, and he is not going to be trying to mislead them about what is going on with the No Child Left Behind Act. The intended audience is school administrators, teachers, principals, and anyone else involved with a public school system.
Figure 2 Showing a bipartisan spirit between Dr. Jbeily and Senator Edward Kennedy celebrating the No Child Left Behind Act.
The main claim of this article is that the new Secretary of Education is going to work with both parties to help reform the No Child Left Behind Act to better fit states and their specific needs. The author clearly states the claim and says that new Secretary, “pledged to bring a ‘spirit of bipartisanship’ to her job” (Robelen par. 2). Robelen goes on to support the claim by saying that “the committee unanimously approved her nomination during a brief meeting” (Robelen par. 2). The article also quotes senators who agree with the new secretary and think she is the right person for the job. The article also gives Ms. Spellings background and what she has done with the administration in the past. The logos of the article makes it easy for people reading the article to see what is going on with the No Child Left Behind Act and how it might be affected by the new Secretary of Education. The pathos of the article is that schools may have some help with dealing with the new Act and gain some flexibility within the law. In the article, “Raising the Bar” the author, Denise Kersten, presents an opposing view to the No Child Left Behind Act. Appearing in the Government Executive, the author builds ethos by including statistics and quotes from the “Americans for Better Education” survey. The intended audience is unclear, but if someone who might be leaning against the No Child Left Behind Act where to read this, their opinion might be more defined because the article is so negative.
Figure 3 The image supports the author's claim that the law is more of a punishment for schools and that they are being forced to do something they don’t believe in.
The main claim of the article is that while people believe schools should be held accountable, they do not believe that schools should be held accountable by federal standards. The sub claim in this article is that the law focuses on penalties and not rewards for schools trying to meet the proficiency levels. The article says, “forty-seven states that have reported their results, the number of schools that missed their targets for two or more years nearly doubled this year, from 5,912 to 10,230, according to the National Education Association” (Kersten par. 8). The schools cannot afford not to implement the program because they will lose federal funding and no school could afford to lose the millions of the dollars they receive every year. The article goes on to support the claim by naming states that have been trying to pass new legislation to seek for flexibility within the law. In conclusion, all three articles make a claim about the No Child Left Behind Act. They all use facts and figures to help persuade the reader to which side of the fence they should be on. All authors do a good job and making their arguments logical and credible. After exploring all the texts, .I believe that the No Child Left Behind Act is an ideal program for an imperfect system. The program overlooks handicapped, underprivileged children, and students who speak English as a second language. In addition, it is difficult to prove that these tests are really making students reach their potential. Teachers are not in control of their own classrooms anymore, they have to slow down or revise the curriculum to teach to the tests so students will not be held back. The program also moves way to fast, and it cannot honestly expect all schools to be 100 percent efficient by 2014. The No Child Left Behind Act is an unrealistic way to improve our country’s education system.