In light of recent discussion surrounding ESEA reauthorization, we direct our readers to a recent radio program aired by KCRW in Southern California. Among the discussants were Peter Cunningham, the DoE’s Assistant Secretary for Communications, and Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute.
The first words out of Rothstein’s mouth were critical of NCLB. According to Rothstein, “the major consequence of No Child Left Behind that’s done major harm to American education is the narrowing of the curriculum. Schools have many things they’re supposed to accomplish and that we want them to accomplish. Teaching math and reading is certainly one of them, but it’s not the only thing. We want students to learn science, history, social studies, the arts, music, and physical education.” Rothstein pointed out that reform efforts focused on math and reading to the exclusion of the rest of the liberal arts only “accentuat[e] the harm that [NCLB] did,” because schools around the country “have abandoned sciences, history, the arts, and music” to comply with the law, and Rothstein said that this has hurt disadvantaged students the most.
Cunningham responded that Rothstein was “absolutely right.” He told host Warren Olney that Rothstein’s concerns could be addressed if ESEA were reauthorized, and that the Department has an aggressive roll-out schedule:
Olney: Why don’t you reauthorize No Child Left Behind? I understand it’s pending.
Cunningham: It is, and we’d like to, and we’re spending an awful lot of time these days developing that legislation and our hope is to do that this spring.