Jesus told his disciples, "Let the children come to me." One cannot imagine Jesus refusing to bless a single child. Educating all children is a moral imperative, an evangelical task, and a requirement for social justice. This is why I teach.
It is also why the words "No Child Left Behind" are so powerfully resonant in our culture. The words conjure up the image of the open-armed, loving teacher, mindful of her entire flock, rounding up the straggling or wayward child and welcoming the lost student back into the fold and then guiding all of her charges to success.
However, such teaching does not happen in a vacuum. It happens when the institutions surrounding the teacher—including superintendents, school boards, principals, and the community—model and reflect the same nurturing spirit. Unfortunately, this is not what No Child Left Behind, the Bush administrations attempt to reform public education, has inspired within educational communities. Instead it has spawned feverish get-tough regulations imposed most harshly on the people working with the most difficult population of students in low-income schools that have not met Adequate Yearly Progress standards, which were set up under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 to assess—using standardized tests and other means—student progress toward meeting minimum proficiency levels.