“No Child Left Behind” is like any other newly implemented policy, it has good intentions but has several kinks that need to be worked out. It was intended to make sure that ALL students have equal opportunity to a quality education. One of the biggest problems in the educational students involves minority, low income, special needs and special ability students. Anyone with a degree was being placed in low-income inner-city schools thus those children were receiving a mediocre education. Students with special needs/abilities were “problem children” and they were arbitrarily placed in alternative settings outside of the general education classroom at the expense of their education.
The idea was to place “highly qualified” individuals who wanted to teach in the classroom. Special educators were to be placed with teachers to assist with teaching those with special needs/abilities and testing was to be used to assess students’ progress. Needless to say a lot has backfired, but a lot of good has been done. Teachers are now expected to do more than stand before a classroom and lecture. They are to resource and use videos, hands on activities, group projects and other multi-media learning tools in order to reach an audience of diverse learners. Students are to be more actively engaged in their learning, instead of sleeping in the back of the room and causing trouble. Special educators are parallel and co-teaching in order to provide support for the general education teachers. Quality teachers are staffing minority schools and their standards are moving up.
Is this the case in all school? No. Several schools are still understaffed and uneducated about the program. The idea of “least restrictive environment,” is overwhelming schools because students with multiple disabilities are being forced to stay in a regular classroom despite the fact that this does not benefit them or the other students. (Least restrictive environment is the idea of placing a student in a setting that is most contusive to their individual learning style. It does not mean that all students must be educated in a regular classroom.) Teachers are overwhelmed with paperwork and are being pushed to their limits to make these children pass the standardized testing. The lack of special education teachers is a problem in every state due to the “No Child Left Behind” stigma of being a “glorified aide”.
All of these things that are going to take time to work themselves out. The strong will persevere. Those who want to teach will and those who never did won’t. Change is hard and everyone suffers in the beginning but benefits in the end. Parents need to also realize that they have a say so in their child’s education. If they feel their child is not getting what they need they should speak to school personnel, seek tutoring and stay active in their child’s education. Teachers and students are not the only ones responsible for education. The parents play a bigger role than most realize and if they choose to sit on the sidelines, their child is the one who suffers