The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind, is designed to support all children to be the best they can be. The Act was created in an attempt to promote high-quality education, capable of catapulting all kids towards high school graduation and, ultimately, college or vocational training. Reinvigorated by President Obama in 2010, No Child Left Behind represents an auspicious goal requiring a long trajectory, ultimately leading to a stronger, more competitive and better educated America. As promising as this all sounds, for most parents the seminal question is simply, “What does this mean for my child?”
Raising the Bar on Schools – New York State adopted the Common Core Curriculum, which was designed to clarify as well as raise the standards children are expected to meet in all 50 states. The Curriculum helps parents, teachers and children know what to expect and supports identification of schools and children who need extra help in order to provide struggling schools with added resources. To further this goal, the New York State Department of Education applied for and received an ESEA Flexibility Waiver, which allows for increased fluidity in the implementation of No Child Left Behind programs. Currently, the DOE has determined that low-performing Priority Schools and Focus Schools defined as needing improvement will be the primary recipients of funding, enabling them to offer Expanded Learning Time programs. Some of the schools may use this funding for tutoring programs, however, the formerly mandated Supplemental Educational Services tutoring program will no longer be offered. Parents who feel that their children need additional tutoring services in order to thrive should discuss this concern with the principal and school leadership if it is not being offered. Make your voice be heard and request that on-site tutoring be provided by an outside vendor, if necessary.
Raising Standards for Leadership – Every adult remembers that one special teacher who understood them and helped them learn and be their best. Elevating the teaching profession is a core priority of The Act. An enhanced system for teacher and principal evaluations, plus added support for higher levels of professional development, will assure that every teacher is functioning at optimum level in every school. A new program is also in the works, designed to attract and recruit the best and the brightest to the teaching profession. Parents are partners in this process and should not hesitate to let their opinions, both positive and negative, be communicated to the DOE about their child’s teachers and principal.
Raising Up the Kids Who Need it Most – Schools must provide all kinds of kids with the tools they need to succeed. This includes kids with disabilities, those learning English as a second language and others who are at risk, such as homeless or neglected kids and those in migrant worker families. We’re all in this together and only as strong as our weakest link. Schools are required to provide access to appropriate levels of instruction, a vigorous curriculum and whatever additional support is required in order to make sure the needs of all kids are met. For this to happen, parents must stay involved, know their rights and what to ask for, as well as maintain the belief that their child, given the support they need, can and will achieve.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.