No Child Left Behind Act up for renewal

By Liz Kerstetter
March 29, 2007

Emily Buerger

English and math. Memorize it.

The words ‘English’ and ‘math’ have been buzz words around public schools for the last five years and rightly so. If math and English were ignored over the past five years, chances are, the school that ignored them lost its government funding.

In 2002 President Bush enacted his signature education law entitled No Child Left Behind Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The act calls for high levels of academic success in areas identified as ‘core’ subject areas, most specifically mathematics and English.

Since the act was passed there have been numerous bills brought to Congress calling for changes in the law. In response to the complaints, Congress created The Commission on NCLB headed by Secretary Tommy G. Johnson and Governor Roy E. Barnes. The commission was formed to investigate and research implementation of the act and find potential problems or successes of the law.

“While our work has uncovered shortcomings in both implementation of the statute and some tenets of the law itself, we have concluded that this nation cannot back away from carrying on with this effort to ensure that all children achieve to high expectations,” the 2006 final report on NCLB said.

Since the act is up for reauthorization this year, the commission, along with many other organizations, is aiming to get their voice heard so that the act can truly leave no children behind.

Specifically, many complaints have been lodged concerning the ignorance towards the physical education and health education departments. Craig Buschner, President of the National Association for Sports and Physical Education said that NASPE is working very diligently to get the NCBL to include physical and health education as a ‘core subject.’

“Our initial concern in 2002 was that we were omitted,” Buschner said. “It is still a concern today.” Buschner said NCBL has had negative consequences on any subject not deemed as ‘core’.

“The law ramped up testing requirements, mandating annual assessments in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8,” the 2006 final report on NCLB said. If schools do not meet the requirements, they could loose their accreditation, thus loosing their funding. Buschner feels that the increased focus on ‘core’ subjects has many schools ignoring physical and health education departments.

Buschner is anxious for the reauthorization of the act. “I am happy to announce that in late February we got great news from two congressmen who are lobbying for physical education to be included in NCLB as well.”

In a press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Kind announced that he would be “joined by U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) and fitness leader Richard Simmons to announce the “Strengthening Physical Education Act of 2007.” The passing of the act would put physical education next to English and math in the core curriculum of NCLB.

Although Buschner feels that NCLB in the last five years has had negative consequences on health and physical education departments, he is excited about the new act. “Even years before NCLB, physical education was not a federal mandated requirement and a few states did not have a physical education department,” Buschner said.

The Strengthening Physical Education Act of 2007 would set “national guidelines for minimum standards for health and fitness,” the press release said.

“We are pleased to know that NASPE is not the only organization concerned with health and physical education programs and I am thrilled to see what unfolds with the newly proposed act and the reauthorization of NCLB,” Buschner said.

Loquitur welcomes your comments and questions on this story. Please send your comments to: The editors will review your comments each week and make corrections if warranted.

Liz Kerstetter

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