Top o' the pack

No Child Left Behind's reauthorization process has barely begun, yet the surfeit of coverage and commentary is enough to make Gadfly think about flying south for winter's remainder. Still, one article rose above the din: Greg Toppo's look at how the law has changed life on the ground in actual schools and communities. He finds that NCLB has given reform-minded superintendents cover to push for bold changes. Philadelphia's Paul Vallas, for example, commenting on his recent dismissal of 750 unqualified teachers, said, "we would have never been able to do that without the federal (Sword of) Damocles hanging over our head." Of course, one person's Sword of Damocles is another's "Hounds of Hell," as a recently retired Virginia teacher described the pressure the law placed on her school. Toppo's smartest observation is disquieting: "Here's a pretty safe rule of thumb: Start in the classroom and travel up the educational food chain. The further you travel, the more you'll find that people like the law...the assessment gets rosier as their suit gets more expensive." Did you hear that, Zegna-clad Congress? 

"How Bush education law has changed our schools," by Greg Toppo, USA Today, January 8, 2007

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