No Child narrows kids

The problem with No Child Left Behind is not just the inadequate level of federal funding, but its promise of turning out a generation of one-dimensional kids [September 15 cover story, "No Child? Who Will Be Left Behind?"]

The NCLB legislation– narrowly focused on academic achievement and unblinking in its remedies– is causing panic and pain in the Charlottesville City school division. Administrators are cutting back on arts, science, P.E., and even counseling to make room for more reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some schools are now even spending time teaching kids how to take tests.

Academic skills are obviously important, and there's no question a serious achievement gap exists in our schools. But to focus resources disproportionately on language arts and math at the expense of activities that produce well-rounded children is shortsighted. Research indicates overwhelmingly that the emotional and physical well being of a child plays as great a role in lifelong happiness and success as book learning.

Until the Department of Education admits that NCLB is flawed and needs fixing, the Charlottesville superintendent and school board must have the courage to focus their energies on strengthening the whole child, not just the tested child. If they don't, they risk turning out kids who can read and write but can't imagine, create, run, or have fun.

Robert J. Inlow