The so-called No Child Left Behind Act is the most idiotic piece
of legislation to slap our kids and American education in the face. Hard. It
has provided us with a crooked yardstick for measuring the education of
children, and has distorted or eliminated everything that should matter in a
kid's life. It has severely damaged teacher morale, made administrators run in
futile and pointless circles, and flushed untold tax dollars down the hopper.
It is now common knowledge that a huge portion of our population has never learned how to critically analyze, question and think, let alone read and write. I won't pretend that my own answers aren't without their own challenges, but I do submit that they can be a first step toward a forward, progressive movement, that will help and empower children, instead of bringing them misery, drudgery, closed minds, and a dislike of learning--as the NCLB Act now does.
I wrote an article similar to this in the spring of '89, for Perspectives Magazine, issued by the Idaho Association of School Administrators. I modified the original for clarity and keeping up with what's happened to education since.
"Accountability" has become for many like the bells to which Pavlov's dogs salivated. The word elicits a predictable response, for surely it seems reasonable to join the parade proclaiming teachers should be accountable for their actions in the classroom.
It is imperative to examine that response more critically. Consider the heart of the word "accountable." That would be the word "count," which means "to call off numbers of the units of a collection or an amount in their regular order of progression; to enumerate, as to count a flock, or to count to a hundred."
In reality, the NCLB has come to mean that a classroom teacher should be performing so that his or her actions, or the consequences of those actions, are countable, measurable, or somehow quantifiable, presumably by some competent administrator or some standard testing instrument. The underlying assumption is that these results will be accessible to the public eye. In this manner educators can be "accountable" to the public that employs them.
A tantalizing carrot, for a public which likes to view itself as scientifically oriented and objective in its search for solutions to society's problems. However, as a third grade teacher attempting to do what I intuitively and logically perceive as "best" for the minds and lives of the twenty-six 8 and 9 year-olds in my class, I am acutely aware of a wide, unbridgeable gap between "accountability" and what I call "responsibility."