In the history of American education there have been several seminal legal issues that have defined both the contemporary educational systems as well as dramatically changed the rubric of U.S. Education Law and Policy. One of these, the so-called "No Child Left Behind" mandate, remains both controversial and impactful in contemporary education. The "No Child Left Behind Act" (Public Law 107-110, 115), is a Congressional Act signed into law by George W. Bush in January 2002. The Bill was a bi-partisan initiative, supported by Senator Edward Kennedy, and authorized a number of federal programs designed to improve standards for educational accountability across all States, districts, and increase the focus on reading. Much of the NCLB focus is based on the view that American students are falling behind in educational basis when scored are compared globally. The Act does not establish a national achievement standard; each State must confirm its own set of standards, but in order to receive funding, the States must meet basic criteria of performance (Abernathy, 2007).
The Case -- Maureen Hulbert faced a daunting task when she assumed her role as principal for one of the worst schools in her area. The demography shows a clear economic decline, collage of incohesive ethnic neighborhoods, and an unemployment rate exceeding 200% of the national average. The District serves almost 7,000 students, but has a dropout rate of almost 30%. Nearly 70 of the students qualify for free lunch, most being either African-American or Hispanic. Principal Hulbert's school has an enrollment just shy of 400 students, with 90% children of color. These students, 82% who qualify for free lunches, have the highest percentage of failing scores in the state proficiency achievement tests. The faculty is older (average of 53), set in their ways (over 2/3 have only taught at this school), and a clear and open debate faced Hulbert from both parents and faculty regarding performance expectations (Kowalski, 2007, 14-15).
Evaluation and Recommendations -- There are three blatant problems at Buchannan Elementary: teacher experience and morale, cogent and relevant student-centered curriculum, and, unrealistic standards from NCLB for this type of school at present. Two of these issues can be solved relatively quickly; one is a bit more challenging. As instructors and administrators we all have but one chance to reach students -- during class hours. We can neither control nor mandate what happens before or after school, but we can