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No Child Left Behind: The Economic Motive of National Education Policy

By Cathy Davidson

I’ve often thought about how our national educational policy of No Child Left Behind, passed in 2002, reinforces and connects to the increasing income disparity in the United States.  Some of the economic implications of NCLB are obvious, such as the privatizing of the multi-million dollar standardized testing industry or the threat that, if a public school is still failing (as measured by those end-of-grade tests) in 2014, it will either be shut down or privatized.  Even with President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s temporary “reprieve” from this frightening deadline, announced this summer, NCLB still tends toward privatizing public education. And clearly, commercial interests are just dying to get their hands on public schools.  The anti-union rhetoric and action against school teachers is also part of this same trend that impoverishes the middle class and its array of professions.  Last Friday (Nov. 4), at the Hechinger Institute Conference on “Digital Media, Technology, Children and Schools,” the eminent scholar of games and learning, James Gee, helped fill in yet another piece in the economic implications of No Child Left Behind.  He remarked on the role played by the bubble burst of the great Asian innovation explosion in the 1980s, led by Japan.

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Cathy N. Davidson

Cathy N. Davidson

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