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[Susan notes: In a passionate letter a teacher exhorts President Obama, Please be the man I voted for - a person of hope, change, and common sense. Please look at other alternatives that will enhance the strengths of our children not crush them.]

Submitted to The White House but not published
08/25/2009

Dear President Obama

Dear President Obama,



I just wanted to let you know that I regret voting for you. I thought you

were the change we needed and I'm beginning to feel that you don't get it.

I am a teacher and I disagree with the decisions that you and Arne Duncan

are making in regards to education.



You did not state during your campaign that testing would be used to

evaluate teachers, and yet that is what you are stating should be done.

You stated that No Child Left Behind needed to be changed, but you have

only changed the name. You are following the easiest course of action

that Bush set.



Children are not machines, cars, or food. Children are not something to

be measured, but people to be encouraged, guided, and loved. It

frustrates me that education is being measured by ONE test. The students

in my classroom cannot be measured by ONE test, and I shouldn't be

measured by how well or poorly they do on ONE test.



Schools were originally created to help children learn to read the Bible.

Later schools changed to help continue democracy. Schools in the first

half of the 20th century were based on creating factory workers. Now

schools are focused on making sure that every child goes to college,

whether he or she wants to or not.



I think you need to change your focus. I think you should focus on

creating schools that build citizenship, an understanding of democracy,

and critical thinking skills. Things that cannot be measured by a test.

Right now our children are very good at filling in bubbles, but they have

a hard time thinking outside the box. Our children are afraid to answer

questions that have no absolute answer because they are afraid to get it

wrong. Our children are having a hard time relating to others. They

don't understand how science works. They don't understand how the United

States came to be. They don't understand art, music, or drama. They are

getting fat because they don't understand health, nutrition, and exercise.

They don't understand how to work with each other because that is not the

focus of the tests that every district in America is teaching to. What

are we creating?



We are creating a generation of people that will not know how to think.

If this type of teaching were going on when you or I went to school, we

wouldn't be the people we are today - critical thinkers, questioners,

communicators. I understand that teachers need to be held accountable, but

so do the students, parents, administrators, the community, and YOU. How

are you going to deal with that?



Please stop what you are doing with the Race to the Top. Please look at

ways to enhance education that will benefit our children and not make them

into clones. Please ask TEACHERS what options are out there that will

benefit our children. Please be the man I voted for - a person of hope,

change, and common sense. Please look at other alternatives that will

enhance the strengths of our children not crush them.



Thank you.



Sincerely,









Kenya Umphenour


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