My personal thoughts on No Child Left Behind and the politics behind the legislation.


If we truly wish to improve academic achievement we must concentrate our attention on the complexity of learning, which should entail examining the conditions under which learning can best be achieved, and this varies among children.  Our focus on tangential and after-the-fact assessments only obfuscates the root of any problem we are attempting to address.  By imposing punitive consequences on students, teachers, and schools, we are in essence blaming those who have fallen victim to the institutional and structural forces that have contributed to their academic failure and their sense of helplessness or failure.  Our focus on process (hyper-standardization and teaching-to-the-test) and punitive consequences (labeling and threats to restructure schools) is akin to what psychologists refer to as operant conditioning and other methods intended to control human behavior.  To quote Michael Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, we are making our “educational space function like a learning machine…”[i]  We have reached the point…

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