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[Susan notes: NOTE: This letter was published online--in answer to the Poll Question of the Day: How would you gauge the federal No Child Left Behind Act?]

Published in Wall Street Journal

To the editor

As the president of my local school board, I can find nothing but fault with the act. It has driven schools away from educating students and toward teaching to a test. And it clearly fails to consider the numerous factors that dictate achievement which fall outside the control of public educators.

Bashing public education has become a popular sport for many in this country. The fact is that in the course of a year, we have the children of our community for about 28% of their waking hours. Far too many come to school tired, hungry, and suffering from various forms of neglect, physical, and emotional abuse and I am not talking about poverty-ridden inner cities. The number of students with severe emotional, mental, and behavioral problems has reached epidemic proportions. And if those factors are not scary enough, for many parents, we simply represent a transportation and supervision service. If we happen to educate their children, that is a side benefit.

Unfortunately, as hard as we try, we will never compensate for our society's ills.

James Avery, President, Richmond (Michigan) Community Schools Board of Education

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