NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT
No Child Left Behind Act
Race, culture, heritage and origin are among the moral issues still being tackled and emphasized in the contemporary American society. Despite the laws and rules regarding the issue of discrimination, it still remains to be the primary dilemma or problem of ethnic minorities in the United States. Such dilemmas are in relevance to institutional racism and affirmative action of the government, which instead of giving the ethnic minorities in the United States a sense of freedom and equality provides them with further issues in relation to employment, individual rights and education. There is much debate about dealing with the lingering effects of past racial discrimination, which is related to the use of affirmative action as an answer to past cases of discrimination (, 1998). With this issue, this paper will give a discussion pertaining to the African American Education, in accordance to the policy “No Child Left Behind Act”.
From 1450-1750, the North American continent experienced enormous changes. The European explorers ventured to what they called then as the “New World” in search of vast amounts of natural wealth (, 1998). Corollary to these exploratory activities, these European explorers also traveled to Africa and began a trans-Atlantic slave trade. Millions of Africans were brought to the Americas and traded there as slaves (, 1998). This mass movement of people led to a new social and economic system; with the color of the skin as a determining factor whether one would live as a slave or as a free citizen.
By 1750, both the free and enslaved black people showed an intense attachment to America. After 1750, many African-Americans already found their freedom. In 1830, Philadelphia held the first meeting of the American Society of Free Persons of Color (later became the National Negro Convention) (, 1998). This organization for the black people was created to establish a black community and seek true freedom. Many societies were founded by the blacks. The black community in Philadelphia created schools for their children because they were denied access to public schools. By 1829, the first black public school was established. However, the conflict between the blacks and the whites worsened which led to the Civil War in 1861. After four years, African Americans were promised of rights of citizenship and slavery was abolished (, 1998).
The Zeitgeist of the time is once about racial segregation and discrimination of African Americans in America. The rise of civil rights movement in America since 1940 brings a significant change in the life of the African-American people. Two of the primary goals of the modern civil rights movement are to push for educational change and to improve the educational situation of African-Americans. However, the reforms demanded by the movement were not well received by the majority of school personnel and researchers (, 1991).
Many years of bloody revolutions and social uprisings took place before American schools, lunch counters and worksites were desegregated. President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order in 1961 offering opportunities to the African-American community as compensation for years of discrimination. By the late 1960s, President Richard Nixon instructed companies working on federal projects to attain minority-hiring objectives. On the other hand, President George Bush, taking side against the Michigan in the Supreme Court case, said that he strongly supported diversity of all kinds including racial diversity in higher education. This affirmative action does not only help the minorities who have been subject for discrimination for so many years but also improved the educational experience of everyone in the university. One student from a university in Michigan said that she is proud for having friends who are black (, 2003).
In 1965, there were only few African-American students who chose to enroll at the previously all-white schools of Cave Street Elementary for grades one to six and Deshler High School for grades seven to twelve in Alabama. In Deshler, one’s race interfered with one’s right to have a decent education. Maria, an African American student, recounted some incidents that demonstrated her perceptions of hostility about the educational atmosphere in Deshler. During that time, African-American students were treated unfairly and unjustly by some teachers and white students (, 2000).
By the 1970s, African-Americans have shown intense interest in pursuing their educational goals. In 1992, 52 percent of them planned to proceed directly to a four-year course after high school graduation as compared to 32 percent in 1972. Also, there was an increase on the percentage of African-Americans to enter academic programs at two-year colleges. During the 1980s and 1990s, the number of bachelor degrees given to African-Americans increased noticeably. In spite of these gains however, their number was still lesser compared to the number of white Americans and Asian-Americans who wanted to enroll in college after high school. The U.S. Census Bureau in 2000 revealed a lesser percentage of African-Americans who received bachelor’s degree in their 20s and 30s. This statistic is smaller than the percentage for all racial and ethnic groups in America, taken together. This discrepancy caught the attention of the political leaders in the United States that is why they wanted to increase the participation of African-Americans in higher education, as one of the country’s educational objectives. Aside from being a political and social issue, this issue is also economic. The economic success of young people also relies on their achievement of an academic degree (, 2002).
According to the report made by the last 2000, the standardized test scores of average African-American and Hispanic students are lower, as compared to the scores of white students at comparable grade levels. The U.S. Department of Education concluded after its examination on 27 school reform models, that most of the reform models failed to make significant improvements. In January 2002, President George W. Bush, signed the “No Child Left behind Act” into law. This new education reform bill was designed basically to close the achievement gap between white upper-and middle-class public school students and poor children and children of color (, 2003). It envisions that all children, regardless of race, will be reading at a “proficient” level by 2014. However, it seems like the country is not heading toward those goals. The law requires every classroom to have a highly competitive teacher likewise; the states are required to measure the students’ performance regularly. Recent reports show that the law is working well and the strategies are very effective. According to , U.S. Secretary of Education, he optimistically said before the National Press Club that every day our service to our children becomes better and each day we come one step closer to the future of excellence and inclusion, discarding the deficiencies and rectifying longstanding problems (, 2004).
As stated, the Public Law 107-110, more commonly known as the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT of 2001 (NCLB) is the America’s federal law which reauthorizes different federal programs with objectives of improving performance of USA’s primary and secondary school through increasing standards of accountability for states, school districts and schools. It also gives parent the opportunity to be more flexible in selecting which schools their children will enroll. Furthermore. the provision also allows an increased attention on reading and re-authorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) (, & , 2003).
NCLB can be considered as the latest of a number of federal provisions implementing educational reforms. It is the result of bipartisan cooperation between Senator Edward M. Kennedy and the President George W. Bush’s proposal of No Child Left Behind ( 2002). During the 107th Congress, NCLB began as House Resolution 1 in March 2001. This 670 page act was finally passed on December 13, 2001 by the House of Representative having a total vote of 381-41. Then, it passed in the Senate with a vote of 87-10 on December 18, 2001. The law was signed by President Bush on January 8, 2002 at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio.
The main aim of this policy is to improve the quality of education given to all children. NCLB requires States to establish an accountability system of assessments, graduation rates and other important indicators. Herein, the Schools have to build adequate yearly progress (AYP), as described by the state. This can be achieve by rasing the achievement levels of subgroups of students which include minorities like Latinos, African Americans, low-income students and students with special education needs to a state-determined level of proficiency. The vision is to make all students be more proficient by the 2013-2014 school years. Further, an increasing set of assistance will also be provided to those students who are in schools that repeatedly do not improve.
The law does not prescribe how schools are supposed to attain AYP, but it gives local educators responsibility for finding ways to do it. NCLB also establishes minimum standards for teacher quality (and for the qualifications of instructional aides) and mandates that schools use scientifically based practices to promote student achievement. Finally, NCLB requires schools to inform parents’ annually about teacher qualifications and empowers parents of students in schools that repeatedly fail to make adequate progress to request supplemental educational services and to transfer their children to successful schools.
Aside form this law, there are various opportunities offered to African-American students. The African American Cultural Program (AACP) offers experiences beyond academic pursuits. It provides training in the areas of newscasting, promotions and public affairs. The Central Black Student Union (CBSU) extends help in planning and sponsoring social, educational and cultural programs for students through early events like “Cotton Club”.
In relation to racism and discrimination and in addition to the solution being given by the American government, the affirmative action, which is a complex policy, designed to end discrimination in hiring, college admissions, and the awarding of contracts is considered (, 1995). It was initially conceived as a temporary measure to compensate for the years of slavery and it was hoped that it would lead to equal opportunity for all, thus, “it serves to increase equity and opportunity to permit race and gender to become a factor in hiring, contracting, admissions, and financial aid” ( 1995). Moreover, it justified using unequal means to achieve greater equality among diverse groups of people, which would contribute to the “public welfare because it reduces poverty and inequalities” ( 1995). However, although affirmative action is a plausible answer for discrimination, it still practices inequality and injustice, thus, removing the rights of many individuals in the society.
A specific example of an attack to the implementation of affirmative action occurred in 1976 when sued the University of California Medial School at Davis for denying him admission in favor of Black candidates who he alleged were less qualified academically ( 1995). He argued that this violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection, thus, this was reverse racism, where white men were being discriminated against and minorities were given preferential treatment (, 1995). In relation to this, in July 1995, the National Conference of State Legislatures counted at least ten other states in the process of introducing legislation or organizing ballot measures to ban “preferential treatment” based on race, color, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preference (, 1996), thus weakening the implementation of affirmative action. With this specific example, it can be understood that because of such a flaw, affirmative action would not be as effective in addressing the problems of discrimination, as thought of. The use of such an action worsens the situation regarding discrimination, and limits the opportunities of not only the individuals belonging to ethnic minorities, but of other individuals, such as the whites.
With the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, it can be concluded that the United States has been able to give focus on their problems regarding the African American learners. With the aim of learning proficiency regardless of child races by 2014, all school districts are able to adhere to the requirements provided by NO Child Left Behind policy.
In addressing such issues regarding racism and discrimination, it must be argued that the issue that must be emphasized here is the ethnocentrism of many individuals living the society of the United States. Ethnocentrism is the view of many White Americans that their culture, race and color are superior to other cultures. If this mentality will be primarily addressed through appropriate education and practice, such as in their homes and in academic institutions, then the problems regarding discrimination would not be as worse as today. Because ever since, the mentality of ethnocentrism has been instilled in the systems of many Americans, it would be difficult now to erase such a mentality in the contemporary society. However, if cultural relativism would be instilled and reinforced to the individuals of today, then somehow, more people will become open-minded in tackling the issues of racism and discrimination of society. If cultural relativism would be given emphasis, many individuals would have the mentality of giving an equal chance and opportunity to others, thus, becoming more open to different cultures and races in the American society. Therefore, the problem regarding discrimination may become dependent on the practices, education and mentality of many individuals in the society, thus, not anymore needing the implementation of affirmative action.
In addition, because affirmative action contributes more to the discrimination and inequality in the American society, its implementation would be make it more difficult for many to accept unjust decisions, especially in terms of education and employment, which are the most important aspects of living. If its use will be reduced, and the education and correction of ethnocentrism mentality would be given more emphasis, then more individuals would be able to benefit and enjoy the opportunities given to them. Lessening the use of affirmative action would also reduce conflicts in relation to race and color, thus, encouraging and promoting effective cultural interrelations among races, cultures and colors in the American society, thus, reducing discrimination and inequality. Moreover, encouraging emphasis on cultural relativism would make the society more conducive to living of different cultures, thus, promoting growth of many.
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