No Child Left Behind Needs Revision
The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, was intended to improve the American education system through its “four pillars”: greater accountability for schools, more flexibility in schools’ usage of government funds, more choices for parents regarding what schools their children go to, and emphasis on various teaching methods1.
Controversial from the start, NCLB has come under fire for many apparent flaws. Among these is something that has been overlooked by the government: gifted education. Before NCLB, most states had gifted education policies for identifying students who show above-average potential in certain areas, such as creative writing and leadership. However, in order to meet the stringent new requirements placed on them by the new law, many of these states were forced to cut funding for these programs and move their accelerated education teachers to other classes to help lagging kids catch up. 2
Many people believe that those who are falling behind are more important than the ones who are ahead. A common statement regarding NCLB and similar policies is “All students should be able to reach their full potential.” If that is true, why are some of the brightest young minds in the U.S. today taking lessons that are designed for average children? It is very important to ensure that all students can meet certain basic benchmarks, and NCLB is an important step in that direction. However, it is also important to ensure that we don’t neglect those who have the potential to exceed those benchmarks. By denying these minds the chance to grow and improve, we could be missing out on a chance to develop the next great inventor, doctor, or scientist.
We have made enormous strides in education by ensuring that especially bright young minds are capable of succeeding. The US government should not allow us to slip backward. Before NCLB is renewed in 2008, we should revise it to include support for gifted students as...