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[Susan notes: This letter makes great points, connecting NCLB scores and school officials' inability to see individual students as unique human beings.]

Published in Ledger-Enquirer:

To the editor

An emotional five-year-old child is handcuffed in school in Florida.

Armed police officers mount rooftops and lockdown a school in Clovis, New Mexico because an 8th grader brought a 30-inch burrito for show and tell.

Now, in Columbus, Georgia, a 17- year-old junior is suspended from school for speaking during class on a cell phone with his mother who is stationed in Iraq.

I sadly believe that we are waging a war against our youth. Our education administrators and leaders seem to have no concept of time, place, and condition. These administrators seem able to identify test scores but appear to have no recognition of individual students as unique human beings with many kinds of different and important needs. Anything which does not fit inside the box is subject to withdrawal, suspension, or being pushed out of school all together.

Our administrators are able to recognize bubbles on a standardized test sheet but cannot make distinctions between cell phone policies and a youngster excitedly talking with his beloved mother who he has not seen since January.

We need to begin listening very carefully and respectfully to our youth. We should restore our own faith in our young people and stop treating youth with mistrust and disbelief. Many of us educators have become jaded and resent students because young peoplesí passions, emotions, and impetuosity interfere with the all-holy NCLB standardized test scores. We need to treat each person with dignity and respect. Itís not wrong for teachers and administrators to wear our hearts on our sleeves. If we keep this present war going against our youth, we will continue to leave millions of children behind and dash all hopes for a democratic and peaceful future.

Steve Orel

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