If you mention the No Child Left Behind Act near a group of teachers, chances are you'll trigger a round of bitter complaints about how it has changed our schools, and not for the better.
You might hear that it's turned schools into factories and teachers into robots, all geared toward turning out a product - students who are able to accurately answer questions on standardized tests.
You'll certainly hear about the lack of funding provided to schools to meet rigid standards and deadlines, and about the unfairness of expecting schools in poorer areas to meet the same standards as others.
Those complaints, coupled with a dismal performance from local schools following the inception of NCLB, weren't casting a positive light on our school system. For the 2004-05 school year, no district schools demonstrated the "adequate yearly progress" required by the law.
Yet, in spite of those problems, Carson City's teachers should be feeling pretty good these days.
Many of the recently released test scores in the schools have shown marked improvement, and that's no accident. The district has focused its resources on helping special-education and English-language learners improve test scores, and on helping teachers become better at helping students do well on the tests.
Does that mean our schools are better because of NCLB?
That's difficult to say. The only thing we know for sure is students are getting better at taking the tests.
There's a lot we don't know. Is the time taken away from teaching subjects other than math, reading and English going to hurt students in the long run? Does focusing more resources on underperforming groups of students hurt the majority?
Those questions and more make NCLB a dicey game. But it's the only game there is, and at least it's nice to know our school district is a skilled player.