Now Children Learn Better: Revising NCLB to Promote Teacher Effectiveness in Student Development
University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class, Vol. 14, 2014
41 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2017
Date Written: 2014
Acknowledging the courts’ mixed effectiveness in the battle for educational equality or adequacy, this article analyzes the substantive splits in authority over whether states must provide an “adequate” public education or an “equal” public education. The landmark legislation entitled “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) sought to improve the effectiveness of the public schools, and remains a source of controversy as its reauthorization continues to stall. One of the more controversial implications of NCLB is the linking of teacher effectiveness to student testing outcomes. What is missing from these debates is the importance of measuring teacher evaluations as an input to the education system, rather than an output at the conclusion of the academic term (or when the standardized test results are released). Prof. Goodman examines the particular equal protection challenge presented when ineffective teachers are disproportionately retained at the public schools whose students are largely disadvantaged, low-income, and minority. This article highlights the issues presented in the equal protection trial currently being conducted in Los Angeles County over the tension between, on the one hand, teacher tenure and reverse-seniority layoff policies, and on the other, providing equal educational opportunities, particularly for low-income and minority students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Prof. Goodman makes a proposal for revitalizing public education by combining the best of both approaches with requirements of substantive effectiveness and cultural competencies in teaching, administration, curriculum, and testing methods in high-poverty, high-minority public schools and school districts. This article augments the context of the discussion to a broader consideration of existing law under the NCLB and describes the legislative roles for the re-vision and re-authorization of the NCLB into Now Children Learn Better. The Nation has tried color-coded, color-conscious, and color-blind; this article now proposes that the next approach should be “Color Fair,” which recognizes the critical importance of acknowledging and addressing the roles of race, ethnicity and poverty in evaluating student development, teacher effectiveness, and resource allocations to public elementary and secondary schools. The conclusion of this article then addresses the roles of the public, lawyers, and law schools, in helping to reach the point when we can say “Now, Children Learn Better”.
Keywords: Public Education, Adequate Education, Equal Education, Public School, No Child Left behind, Teacher Effectiveness, Standardized Tests, Race, Ethnicity, Poverty, Student Development
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