“Where were you when No Child Left Behind was passed?” This is a question beinging asked a lot lately by bloggers, teachers, and in the comments section of a variety of common core-related articles. It always seems to come with a hint of, “The only reason you didn’t fight NCLB is because your guy passed it. ” Well, that’s a valid question that I would like to answer – at least for myself.
In 2001 when NCLB was passed I only had two children. My oldest was only three. To my new, young-mother mind the three years we had until he started school were an eternity away. I wasn’t really worried about what was going on in the education world. I was having fun teaching ABCs 123’s colors, shapes, etc. to make certain my young children were prepared to go to school. But I didn’t have to worry about what was going on in classrooms just yet. (Now with an old-mother mind and a 15-year-old son, I realize that three years is just a blip. Tomorrow he will be leaving home for college and new adventures…)
NCLB didn’t hit my radar until I attended a parent meeting for the online, virtual charter school I had enrolled him in for first grade in fall 2004. I got a lecture on how important it was for my son to take the tests. I remember hearing the terms AYP and proficiency and how vital they were for the school. I remember being blown away at the expectation that by 2014 all students would test at grade level in math and reading.
All students? Really? Whose dumb idea was that? I thought everyone knew that no children are alike; that they learn at different rates. Some, like myself, may really struggle in grade school but then do well in middle and high school. Expecting all children to hit the same milestones at the same time is absolutely ridiculous! What about students who don’t test well? Or how about special needs students? The whole thing just seemed like a bad idea. But I sat back and did nothing but talk about what a bad idea it was.
As I began researching Common Core I wasn’t surprised to find many similarities to NCLB – more federal involvement on the local level, the importance of high-stakes assessments, etc. It was all there.
It is not lost on me or any of those I have been working with that NCLB laid the ground work for Common Core. I’ve had many conversations with others about how frustrated I am with former President G.W. Bush. He was labeled by the mainstream media as a conservative and yet he passed things like No Child Left Behind which only enlarged the role of the federal government and ultimately led to Common Core.
So, I’m sorry. I should have stood up and fought against it like I’m fighting Commom Core. At this point, please accept my belated apology and let’s join arms and move forward together to stop Common Core.