Is Government Policy Helping or Hindering Education?

by A Guest

Over the past decade, there has been dramatic legislation that has created quite a bit of controversy on this subject. The flagship of this legislation has been the monumental No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. To summarize this massive legislation, the act places stringent requirements on schools for standardized testing, increases the minimum qualifications for teachers, and provides re-allocation provisions of federal resources.

There are three sides on this particular coin: the teachers, the students and then the politicians.

Is Government Policy Helping Teachers?

The No Child Left Behind Act introduced a regulation stating that every teacher in a public school must be “highly qualified” in their subject matter. “Highly qualified” was at first open to interpretation, but evolved to have a strict definition. This definition is that the teacher must have completed two years of college with an associate’s degree or passed an evaluation to show their knowledge of the subject and their teaching ability. The same act also placed strict requirements on the curriculum that must be taught and will be tested on federal standardized tests. Do these rules help teachers? Or hinder them?

It could be argued that it helps them. It ensures that quality and properly educated teachers who possibly have health education degrees, receive jobs that may have otherwise been given to under qualified teachers. It also places a clear focus on what the teachers will be teaching, freeing them up from having to create a curriculum.

It could also be argued that it hinders them, however. By requiring a teacher to focus solely on federally mandated curriculum, it robs them of their ability to creative mold the minds of their students. Every teacher has their own teaching style based on their experiences and teaching philosophies. This regulation boxes them in to one set curriculum course that may hinder a teacher’s ability to educate young minds.

Is Government Policy Helping Students?

With a name like “No Child Left Behind,” one would assume this policy would clearly help students. That is the aim of the legislation.  It states that students must be able to demonstrate levels of proficiency in various subjects through standardized testing. Does this help or hinder students?

Well, one could argue that this helps students. It ensures they get the proper education they need to function in society once they graduate. It imparts a certain degree of proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics. This will help them if they pursue higher education or proceed on a chosen career path immediately after high school.

However, it could also be argued that this act actually does leave children behind. Recent studies have proven that people learn in different ways and convey that knowledge in unique ways. Some people learn better with creative instruction, whereas others learn better with more logical instruction.  The standardized tests only test one style of learning. This marginalizes those who are unable to fit this mold, and leaves them feeling unintelligent and unmotivated.

Is Government Policy Helping Politicians?

How would legislation with no mandates regarding politicians help them? Simply by making them look good.  Most politicians have not thoroughly studied the learning styles of students, let alone had direct experience teaching. Many of them have never sat down with a teacher in their constituency and asked how they feel about these policies and what would help them and their students.

A politician votes on legislation that appears to be in the best interest of teachers and students so that their constituency will re-elect them. A “no” vote on an act called “No Child Left Behind” would most definitely look bad, even if they voted no because of a valid difference of opinion in how the education system should function.

Who Is Being Helped or Hindered?

With the information and viewpoints presented here, we see that many people are being helped. We also see that many people are being hindered. Perhaps the best way to bridge the gap is to have a meeting of the minds to sort out these issues. Bring tenured teachers and educators, successful former students and politicians in one place to discuss what is truly in the best interest of everyone.

This guest post article was written and provided by Marissa Krause. Marissa received her health education degree 15 years ago and has been a middle school health education teacher.

This post was written by A Guest

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