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[Susan notes: Wonderful.

I hope it inspires others to go forth and do likewise. You can use Senator Harkin's e-mail form:


Or send a real letter to one of his offices (mail to D. C. gets delayed for anthrax screening):

150 First Avenue, NE

Suite 370

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Remember, Harkin now heads the Senate Education Committee.


Submitted to but not published

Dear Senator Harkin

It has come to my attention that you believe teachers like NCLB. I am a teacher in the Denver Public Schools and I can say that there are few teachers that like "No Child Left Behind." Its fundamental de facto belief is teachers are the blame for school failings, at least by the measure of standardized tests that are required. The reality is standardized test scores are primarily determined by one's socio-economic status, and teachers, despite our enormous impact on students, have little impact on "high-stakes" tests. And typically those tests are only high stakes for the school, not the student.

What I have witnessed first hand is a narrowing of the curriculum to address ONLY the areas tested. Social studies, the arts, physical education among many are given short shrift, if addressed at all. Vocational education has virtually disappeared from American public schools. This has all been done at that alter of standardized test scores. And I have NEVER had a standardized test score tell me something about a student I didn't already know from one-on-one work with my students.

If you are truly concerned about the direction our public schools are moving, I encourage you to read the works of two books: Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America's Schools by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner and Education Hell: Rhetoric versus Reality by Gerald Bracey. Both of the books offer careful analysis of the current direction of education reform and dispel many of the foundations upon which No Child Left Behind rests.


Sean Michael Black, M.A., Ed.S.

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