Stuart Greene Assesses Impact of NCLB, ESSA Mindset on Equity and Finds Them Wanting
Stuart Greene, an is associate professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame, wrote a blog post for the Oxford University Press assessing the effectiveness of NCLB in addressing the gross inequities it sought to remedy. He concludes that the law fell far short of it’s intended goal:
The 8 January, 2017 is the fifteenth anniversary of NCLB, so it is worth revisiting NCLB’s promise to address the needs of historically underserved students. Schools are resegregating, (e.g. Kozol, 2005), students living in poverty are socially isolated in schools located in the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, and funding is inadequate. The reality is that many students are left behind and do not have access to the kinds of opportunities to participate in a democracy as citizens who might be better positioned to navigate the very policies and laws that have historically marginalized students of color.
Citing the work of Gloria Ladson-Billings Stuart frames the learning deficits of black, Latinx and other underserved students as an education debt, a debt that has accumulated over decades of Jim Crow policies and cannot be readily repaid when under-resourced schools that are unresponsive to the communities they serve are expected to make up these deeply seated learning deficits. By focussing on the roles of schools, NCLB “…shifted attention away from social, political, and economic problems surrounding, outlining, and running through such schools.” He goes on to assert that:
The same holds true for those who embrace school choice, which fails to address the devastating effects of neo-liberal policies on inner cities throughout the United States. It is not trivial to observe that race matters in discussing policies that affect children’s life chances. And this means confronting what the authors of the Schott Foundation for Public Education report (2015) describe as an “insurmountable chasm of denied educational opportunities” for youth of color who find themselves mired in a school-to-prison pipeline.
Mr. Stuart does not see any difference between the NCLB mindset and that of ESSA. Both assume that equity of opportunity is in place and/or immaterial and, in doing so, both place an undue responsibility on the schools. He concludes his post with this:
To reinvigorate the notion of equity and re-imagine schools, it is important to underscore (a) the equitable distribution of material, emotional, and economic resources to ensure that children have the capacity to direct the course of their own lives in healthy, safe environments in and out of school; (b) the value of inclusion in making critical decisions about the processes underlying the distribution of these resources; (c) the importance of developing measures of assessment that account for what it means to teach for social justice and challenges the limits of assessment rooted in the nation’s economic well being; and (d) the need to leverage the law to center justice as a value in education.
Restated, Stuart is seeking equity, local empowerment, meaningful assessments, and economic justice. As it stands now, neither NCLB, RTTT, or ESSA address any of those issues directly and all three arguably sidestep them. Those of us who see this as a gross injustice need to keep calling our politicians at the State and national level to bring about the changes needed to ensure that no child IS left behind.