Say what you will about NCLB…but you sure see a lot more news stories like this one since NCLB was passed.
Or do you? Perhaps it depends on your definition of “a lot.”
The old field trip story is a perennial favorite. In Washington, this is the Washington Monument gambit. If the Park Service might get their budget cut they don’t tell the press about any obscure cuts, they say, “we’ll have to close the Washington Monument!” In fact, by way of an interesting side note, this is one reason the Federal Government moved to a budget from the president in 1921 when the Bureau of the Budget (now known as OMB) was established. That way different agencies couldn’t come hat in hand to Congress halfway through the year and argue that without more money they couldn’t buy bullets, deliver mail, etc…(though it still happens because of the nature of the budget process). School districts, for their part, don’t talk about places they might be able to cut without impacting instruction, they say things like, “no field trips!” But, in this case you never know, after all schools are doing some counterproductive things in response to NCLB.
So, turns out that from 1991-2001, a quick and dirty Nexis search turns up 62 articles on field trips being cut back. Remember, those were the halcyon days before No Child Left Behind was passed and ruined everything. Since 2002 when it was passed 60 stories. Now math wizzes that you are you’re saying, sure Eduwonk, but that’s 62 stories over a decade and 60 in only about 6 years. And you’re right! But wait, there is more….18 of those post-2002 stories are about field trips being cut because of concerns about the D.C. snipers or the Iraq invasion, post-NCLB events but hardly caused by the law. Bummer. But NCLB-haters, don’t despair! 22 of the stories pre-2002 were about field trips being cut in response to the 9-11 attacks. You’re back in business! It’s a friggin’ NCLB-caused field trip epidemic:
40 stories in the decade prior to NCLB, and 42 since it was passed. He’s right, that’s an increase…4 stories a year in the decade before NCLB, seven stories a year since the law was passed….that’s approaching one a month in a newspaper somewhere! AFTie John was so right…it’s a pandemic really.
More seriously, state and local budget issues and budget cuts are the primary cause of field trip cut backs and that’s hard to seriously lay at the feet of NCLB though it hardly stops people from doing it.
*By the way, the Newsweek story would be more convincing if it looked more at (a) the budget angle which it only really flirts at and (b) didn’t quote teachers from Texas, a state that had annual assessments and all the major characteristics of No Child Left Behind before, you know, No Child Left Behind.