The Honest Debate

There is a legitimate critique of No Child Left Behind, and in this Boston Globe essay Ted Sizer lays it out. But just being against NCLB isn’t much of a reform, because it begs the question, if not standards then what?

To his credit, Sizer goes on to lay out his solution, too. But don’t look for the NEA or their various bankrolled front groups to be trumpeting this Sizer idea. That relationship will end at the critique. Sizer understands that some leverage for change, beyond just good intentions, is necessary. He just doesn’t like NCLB’s levers.

Though Sizer explicitly rejects it, there is a Third Way, marrying some choice with standards and public accountability (and some choice programs today desperately need both of those). But what Sizer’s essay implicitly shows is that the generic anti-NCLB argument is barren. Even if you don’t agree with his remedy, illustrating that is an important contribution to this debate.

Afterthought: Enough Sizer praise! What’s the “serious research” dig toward the bottom? In education, as soon as someone says that pseudo trump card, without offering any up, be suspicious…

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