Last week, when I heard that the new National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics and U.S. history results were about to be released, my curiosity was piqued. No, not in anticipation of finding out whether the results would be dismal or dismal-er, but because I really wanted to see how the Bush administration would handle the news, good or bad. Schools aren’t held accountable for civics and U.S. history under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and I couldn’t wait to see how the administration would somehow tie the results to its favorite law.
All over America, mayors are looking to get more directly involved in the nitty-gritty of public education in their cities. Over the past several years, mayors in Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Newark, New York and Washington, D.C. have weighed in on the school reform issue. Citizens looking for real change also are relying more on mayors and local legislators to fix our schools. In response thereto, mayoral involvement in public education is a quantum leap different from what it was 10 years ago.
Contentious debate on reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has begun and the battle lines are drawn. For the next few months, and maybe years, the debate will rage on testing, sanctions, spending, achievement gaps and how to label failing schools. Meanwhile, the debate on one of the most pressing issues—a rapidly increasing shortage of teachers—remains relatively silent. Even in crisis areas like post-Katrina Louisiana that suffer from crippling teacher shortages, education leaders are slow to fully leverage ways to recruit new teachers.