The Children Will Be Left Behind

In light of America’s rising levels of poverty and unemployment, it is truly difficult to understand how a nation can afford extravagant tax cuts and a costly war. One of the largest tragedies caused by this perplexing economic paradox is the deteriorating condition and the diminishing funds and resources of the public education system. The newly implemented No Child Left Behind Plan serves to combat problems that we have been battling for years, including classroom crowding and the lack of basic school materials. The No Child Left Behind Plan enables parents whose children attend unsatisfactory schools to transfer these children to better-performing schools. While the notion of parents’ ability to determine the quality of their children’s education is compelling, the flaws in this plan are rather overwhelming. The truth of the matter is there are not enough high-performing schools to accommodate all students. The influx of students who have transferred from “failing” schools into more successful schools has caused a ripple of classroom overcrowding, as well as a lack of essential school supplies such as textbooks, computers, and extra-curricular programs. These budgeting oversights and the number of needy students combine to create the complex and disturbing politics of American public education. Furthermore, the No Child Left Behind Plan also drains poorly-performing schools of funds until they can meet national standards of performance. This truly denies the school administration of even the opportunity to improve student performance. Consequently, the students in these “failing” schools who simply cannot transfer to a better-performing school face abhorrent conditions, ranging from material inadequacies, the age-old problem of classroom overcrowding, and the diminished academic/extracurricular opportunities that are only provided by a healthy budget. The only students who will not feel the squeeze caused by the faulty No Child Left Behind Plan are, ironically, those in the gifted programs, composed traditionally of white and affluent children. Provisions in the plan allow such gifted programs to be untouched by the influx of transferring students. The minority, poor, and disadvantaged children for whom the plan was originally designed will thus be the only children that the plan will affect disastrously. Achievement gaps delineated by race, culture, gender, and levels of affluence will be harder to close as administrative initiatives continue to dismantle the already failing education system. The horrid reality of the American public education system is the true root of most issues we face in today’s society; when the only means of upward mobility is damaged, then ramifications in higher education, economics, the workplace, race relations, crime and poverty levels spiral out into our every day lives. The No Child Left Behind Plan, with all of its fancy notions of equality, is truly one of the most disastrous policies we face. Children will be left behind, and are being left behind every day. America is supposedly a democracy, swayed by the demands of its people, but when levels of affluence (and influence) dictate the type of education one receives, I dare say that it is imperfectly democratic, and in many ways so capitalistic that it is swayed by the demands of its people’s money.