"No Child Left Behind"--from the majority accounts that I've read has been an abysmal failure--by and large. I have several "relatives" who teach in the public school system, and not a single one of them thinks the "NCLB" has been successful.
And all three of them voted for George W Bush--both times!
EDUCATION begins at home...and it MUST begin at home. No child should enter the public school system without a basic sense of numbers, colors, and some letters. The more education the child receives at home (the right kind, that is), the better his/her chances will be once they enter the school system. This is the PARENTS' RESPONSIBILITY--not the school system's.
What I propose: (and I am picking on a mysterious, ficticious "little Johnny")
1) Make sure that the individual student can read at grade level--BEFORE promoting them to the next grade level. No need to put "little Johnny" in the third grade if "little Johnny" can only read on the first grade level. "Little Johnny" is not being treated fairly, nor served well, in this situation.
2) Emphasize the important basic skills. Little Johnny needs to know how to read, write, and spell BEFORE little Johnny learns how to use the Internet. No child, in my opinion, should be taught how to use the "worldwideweb" before that child can read at grade level five or six. I am constantly amazed at how small children are taught how to use all the "gadgets" and "gizmoes" but those same children have deficient spelling and reading abilities. THIS MUST STOP!
3) Pay the good teachers a living wage! The regular public school teacher, on any given day, performs as psychologist, counselor, lawyer, referee, banker, coach, artist, musician, and actor. (I'm sure I left something out, unintentionally, of course). People who have all those "hats" and roles should be paid appropriately. NO school teacher should have to worry about meeting their bills, and taking a second job to make ends come together. Pay school teachers what they are truly worth.
4) Emphasize home-schooling. Yes, that was not a mistake. I work in Adult Education, and I see what a miserable failure many public schools have been (whether by design, or just destiny). I feel that every parent should have the choice of homeschooling their children, if they so desire. Some of the brightest and best students I encounter are those who have been homeschooled. While this isn't the 100% guarantee for success, it should definitely be an option for every parent who cares about their child(ren).
I could write volumes about "educational" reform....and maybe someday, I will