Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative more promising than No Child Left Behind

During his annual State of the Union Address Tuesday, Jan. 31, President George W. Bush introduced the American Competitiveness Initiative, emphasizing a focus on higher-level math and science courses that would ultimately benefit Ames High. To provide students with a solid foundation in math and science, President Bush proposed doubling federal funding for programs in the physical sciences in the next 10 years. In addition, he requested that 70,000 high school teachers be trained to teach Advanced Placement math and science classes and 30,000 math and science professionals be brought in to teach in classrooms. Despite his proposed changes to education, President Bush said the No Child Left Behind Act has been effective in raising test scores and setting the academic achievement bar higher. As high school students, we have seen firsthand the effects of the president’s education initiatives. We have all taken tests mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act. Although we may have been encouraged to try our best on the Stanford Open-Ended exams and ITEDs, it is no secret that some did not take the tests seriously. From our perspective, it is obvious that testing is not the best way to assess the success of students and their teachers and school districts. We believe Tim Kaine, Governor of Virginia, provided better alternatives in the Democrats’ response to the State of the Union Address. Governor Kaine said, “The administration’s No Child Left Behind Act is wreaking havoc on local school districts.” Instead of being preoccupied with test scores, the administration should concentrate on improving the conditions of schools. Several methods Kaine cited that have already been used nationwide and in Virginia were creating national standards for each grade level “in a bipartisan fashion,” making high-quality education more accessible, and making bipartisan investments in education. Using standardized testing to find a scapegoat for issues facing public schools is not an effective way to improve the education of young Americans, and the president should focus on implementing solutions that have already been proven successful. While we may not agree with President Bush’s view of the No Child Left Behind Act, we believe his emphasis on increased math and science is on the right track. More Advanced Placement math and science classes would foster academic growth and future success. Even at Ames High, where we pride ourselves in academic achievement, we are limited in our ability to take such courses. Providing more options in the math and science departments would prevent students from having to sacrifice peer interaction by going outside the high school in search of higher-level courses. There are tried and true ways to better education, without resorting to the No Child Left Behind Act. If President Bush concentrates on pursuing these solutions as well as maintaining his support for more Advanced Placement math and science classes, the future of education and America will be brighter.