Education policy 教育政策 Final exam期终考试
As elections loom, Barack Obama tries to reform America’s schools
AMERICA’S schools are dotted with stories of progress. In December your correspondent watched a class of seven-year-olds on Chicago’s poor West Side. As Mauricia Dantes, a consultant for IBM before she retrained as a teacher, led the pupils in a discussion about the deaf-and-blind author Helen Keller, one small girl declared: “I feel like I’m in college.” One day, thanks to Ms Dantes and other teachers, she may be.
美国的学校系统里不乏一些可圈可点的先进事迹。去年12月份，我们的记者在芝加哥欠发达的西区旁听了一节七年级课程。当毛里西噢-邓蒂斯（Mauricia Dantes）教师（之前是IBM的一名咨询员）引导学生们围绕聋哑作家海伦·凯勒（Helen Keller）展开讨论时，一个小女孩大声说：“我感觉自己像在大学里。”感谢邓蒂斯女士和其它教师，有一天她可能真的会到那里。
Barack Obama wants such scenes to be the rule rather than the exception. The question is what the federal government can do to help. Ten years ago Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a bold effort to improve America’s schools. On March 14th Mr Obama announced that he wants to pass a new version by August. It could be one of his most important feats. But it will not be easy.
巴拉克-奥巴马希望这样的场景成为常例，而非特例。问题是联邦政府能提供怎样的帮助。十年前，国会通过了《不让一个孩子掉队法》（No Child Left Behind Act，NCLB）——一项旨在改进美国学校系统的大胆举措。3月14日，奥巴马先生宣布他想在8月份前通过一个新版本。虽然这有可能成为他执政期间最重要的成就之一，但是实现起来将不会轻松。
The main problem is that politicians still disagree on Washington’s role in education. The federal government provides less than 10% of the money schools spend. But NCLB, the most recent incarnation of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, gave the federal government unprecedented influence. States must set standards of achievement. Schools that fail to make progress face sanctions.
主要问题是政客们仍无法就联邦政府在教育中该扮演的角色达成共识。虽然来自联邦政府的补贴在学校开支中占比不到10%，但是作为1965年中小学教育法(Elementary and Secondary Education Act)最新体现的NCLB法案给了联邦政府前所未有的影响力。就教学质量，各州必须设定合格标准，未能达标的学校将面临处罚。
NCLB exposed the dismal performance of schools. But it has also demonstrated how clumsy Washington’s hand can be. A requirement for “highly qualified” teachers turns out to have helped keep states from hiring good ones. State standards diverge wildly. NCLB’s main goal, for all pupils to be proficient in reading and maths by 2014, is unrealistic. And thanks to an odd way of judging schools, more than 80% may be labelled as “failing” this year.