School Development Programs and the NCLB vs AFT

When President Bush signed into effect the (NCLB) No Child Left Behind Act, he was in fact signing a state of drastic school reform. The AFT drafted its own type of school reform and called it school development. The program was designed to service elementary levels and it included several topics: mechanism, operations, and principles. Each topic is consistent with the NCLB Act and this paper will reflect the lineage of the two programs.

The first main feature of the SDP is called “Mechanisms” and refers to the development of three coordinated teams that run the school as a team. The teams consist of three separate groups and include school planning and management, parents, and student and staff support. The school planning and management team are responsible for the academic and social climate of the school. The parent team is responsible for increasing confidence in the community and to generate programs geared at increasing school involvement. The student and staff support team is responsible for behavior problems and is focused primarily on meeting the needs of the students. Each part of the “Mechanisms” section of the SDP is essential and equally important for its sustained success.

The “Mechanisms” is consistent with the NCLB Act in many ways. For example, within the new legislation is the concept that by including parents and by providing them with more options, allows the community to dictate progress. The NCLB provides the funding for communities to find programs that work. It also requires schools to be held accountable for it’s lack of programs or ability to reform. The first feature of the SDP is a good example of the intentions of the NCLB Act.
The second feature of the SDP is called “Operations” and refers to the development of a school reform plan. The “Operations” department has three essential responsibilities: devise a comprehensive school plan, develop staff professional programs, and determine assessment protocol including possible modifications. The purpose of this second feature is to make sure the teams mentioned previously are experiencing progress and to determine what has been successful and what has not.

The “Operations” is consistent with the NCLB Act because it is about self-evaluation. It is mostly consistent with the third component of the NCLB Act, which places emphasis on determining which educational programs and practices have been proven effective through research. The “Operations” feature is to improve student learning and it also requires the school to take corrective action if adequate progress is not being made. This concept is consistent with the first component of the NCLB Act, which seeks stronger accountability for results.

The final feature of the SDP is called “Principles” and consists of three parts: no-fault problem solving, decisions via consensus, and collaboration. The true definition of the final feature is to use the word “teamwork” in everything that occurs as the school reforms. The premise is for every person to assume responsibility for all the success and all the failure. It also requires the elimination of voting to find solutions and focuses on what the majority of people feel in a consensus type of way. Lastly, it requires that everyone collaborate and work as one. The goal is to improve and all members of the team must “buy in” to the concept of change.

The final component of the SDP is consistent with the NCLB Act because it places emphasis on working together. The NCLB Act is all about teamwork. Through the stronger accountability, freedom of states and communities, proven educational methods, and more choices for parents the same concept of collaboration must exist! No school reform will work unless all work together.

The SDP developed by the American Federation of Teachers and the NCLB Act, signed by President Bush, are not alike in appearance or in semantics. However, they are alike in their intentions. The intentions of both are similar in that they are attempting to induce a positive change in education. The three elements of the SDP are called mechanisms, operations, and principles. The four elements of the NCLB Act are not called the same as the SDP, although they represent the same values and feature the same types of reform.

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