The News Release I Couldn?t Find
Today the Secretary of Education announced her plan to release the nation?s public school system from the reign of terror known as the NCLB act. Responding to growing complaints from the public, the education community, parents, teachers, students, and finally taking the time to process some of the many reports of growing dissent and scientific research illuminating NCLB?s flaws and deficiencies, the Secretary has decided that continuing the process of relentless tests and measurements, in fact causes more harm to our schools than good.
She also says she now sees that teaching is the job of teachers, and promises to develop teachers programs which focus on the realistic challenges of social and economic inequities as well as realistic knowledge of child development and learning as focal academic study areas. Her new informed perspective allows her to protect the academic community and honor the integrity of teaching and learning as a scholarly research area composed of many talented and knowledgeable professionals. The government should be involved to the extent that it offers financial support for social, economic and educational programs that support the goals of the educational community. The Secretary says she will provide teachers and schools with the support that they require to give every American child an opportunity to learn in a manner that realistically accommodates the various needs of each individual student.
The significant areas of harm embedded in the act can not simply be erased by revision, according to the Secretary, and it is her belief that the responsibility of education belongs in the hands of the educators and academic community rather than the political machine. She says she has learned the lesson of allowing business and military interest groups to covet control in an issue of such delicate and human relevance and promises to prevent any further ?investment-based? policies in the future of education.
This announcement follows the most recent and public criticism of NCLB by Nebraska Education Commissioner, Doug Christensen who encouraged the outcry of citizens across the country with an appeal to the federal DOE to stop interfering with the educationally sound and productive policies of state endorsed teaching and testing programs which are devised to encourage real academic progress for individual students. Acknowledging that the policies of NCLB were so off course because of the powerful lobby of ?educational?-business interests which were largely profit-seeking, the secretary apologized to Christensen because she allowed herself to adopt a narrow and harmful perspective in support of impossible demands.
In a show of good faith, the secretary has enlisted the top educational text-book, curriculum, supplemental education services, and test companies, including the College Board, ETS, McGraw-Hill and Kaplan Inc which monopolized much of the NCLB-created profits, to redistribute the billions of dollars of revenue back into a fund that would be equitably delivered directly to schools for a massive project of direct impact and improvement in the classrooms.
The new plan will function, under continued scrutiny by a panel of educators, school administrators, university researchers, parents, and students, all enlisted to oversee the process of NCLB reversal. This new and progressive movement is called the American Public Education Act of 2006 and as the secretary reflects upon it she comments that it needs no rhetorical phrase to make it marketable. The American public, our children, their teachers, our system of education is henceforth too important to compromise and will no longer be prey to the interests of economic, political or other narrowly focused interest groups looking for a fast profit, she remarked
Rather than face the growing strength of forces and states in dissent of NCLB, the secretary has agreed to support the principals of education so often cited in the critical reviews of NCLB. The American Public Education Act returns the responsibility of the schools, the curriculum, the standards, the test protocol, the text books, back to each individual state with a warning that she will be monitoring each school directly with correspondence about the return to an atmosphere where learning is a joyful and creative process. The teachers, the students, the parents, and the administrators are expected to share in the process of the development of policies that encourage a more realistic learning environment in our public schools.
Under the new Act, school boards, a largely politicized body, will also be dissolved. The once restrictive influences and stronghold pressure of business and political interest groups over school boards now are obsolete without the NCLB endorsed profit incentive. The federal government intends to invest wisely in a system that oversees the equitable distribution of funds and resources to assist state and district superintendents and their administrations in the embodiment of an educational system that includes the citizen?s voices by way of community outreach and advocacy.
In the spirit that this American Public Education Act embodies, the Department of Education will also undergo a massive rehabilitative reorganization and engage an electorate made up of Superintendents from every school district in the country to convene on a regular basis and revise the leadership and purpose of the Federal Department of Education. The secretary acknowledges that in this process, she will resign her position of leadership and admits that the practical and reasonable candidate to take her place as secretary should and will come from a pool of qualified educators. Her position will be filled with a candidate chosen by the cabinet of State Superintendents once the process of reorganization is completed beginning at the District level.
In a direction away from political pressures, future District Superintendents will be elected by their academic community, the teachers in their district, and State Superintendents will be elected by their District Superintendents. It is projected that by the end of the remaining current contracts, the system of American Public Education will enjoy the benefits of an academic community that fully serves it?s academic and educational purpose and functions externally to the current constraints of a profit or political interest or control.
The American Public Education act is an act in the process of its creation and evolution, and over time, it is expected that it will continue to change and grow with the information and enlightenment of its membership. The system of public education in America is soon to become an educational system of the people.
This essay is, of course, just a fantasy; an imagined and wishful outcome to a burdensome act that threatens to extinguish the art of creativity for creativity?s sake; it is the news release I desperately wanted to read, but just couldn?t find. These ideas are meant, at least in part, to provide a starting point for a resolution to what seems to have become an impossible dilemma.
The American Public School system has, in just a few short years, been changed and regulated to benefit the interests of a strong and growing educational industry of businesses. It no longer supports or protects the interests or well-being of our students or our teachers. The current system extinguishes the once noble goals of learning and teaching that were primary in its inception.
In an effort to enforce NCLB mandates, the Secretary is engaged with prominent school administrators in a relentless battle of punishments and control. The policies of NCLB serve no measurable value but continue to destroy the morale and the effectiveness of our public school system.
The time has come for the citizens to recapture a system created to compliment and expand the passions of a democracy. The responsibility is ours to regain our voice and our spirit and renew a national commitment to an honorable American Public School System.
In this context, I believe that it is still okay to dream and imagine. I hope you will join me.