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[Susan notes: This is a great letter, calling a prominant commentator to task for ignoring the plight of children and the very existance of public schools for the sake of ideology. ]

Submitted to but not published
01/14/2005

To the editor

re: "Fodder for Cynics of Reform, and a Blot on Bipartisanship" by Samuel G. Freedman, published 1/12/05



It was good fortune that the Bush Administration was so desperate and fraught



with poor judgement that it would, in Freedman's words, "bribe" a journalist to put a pretty face on brutality. Freedman bemoans the administration's actions and labels critics of the law "cynics", who either oppose "big government" or educational standards, and reveals his mission to rescue the people he criticizes from the effects of their own law's bankrupcy.



What responsible journalist would promote a law that parades itself as a defender of the disenfranchised as it further victimizes them and threatens to destroy the world' s most extensive and successful free, public educational system, using a fraudulent 'accountability" system to falsely portray its failure?



"No Child Left Behind" is a hoax which uses the language of progress to impose conditions in the schools which will, if left unchallenged, eventually lead to the privatization of public education, its real goal. Under its influence,



standardized testing has taken the place of teacher judgement and holistic assessment. Students learning English as a Second Language are now given three years to become proficient, in contradiction with all credible research. Proven reading curricula is being limited or replaced by mediocre phonics drills.



As a teacher I am outraged and will not stand by as intelligent, hopeful and healthy children are reduced to thinking of themselves as stupid, inept or learning disabled after test scores cause them to be held over repeatedly or to be unable to graduate. I will not be reduced to a mere body in a classroom whose professionalism is unrecognized and marginalized, and who is rendered irrelevant when it is time to make decisions about teaching, learning and assessment.



Instead of trying to rescue the law and its framers, Freedman should focus on those who need to be rescued from it and them--public school students.









Juliet Luther


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