[Susan notes: A fine letter, unlike the editorial it responds to, filled with facts.]
Published in Mountain News
Susan Ohanian is Dead Right
Before jumping to the conclusions about No Child Left Behind your editorial writers (ll/25) need to look at the facts about this ill conceived law and should at least visit some schools and talk to "real" teachers. 86 percent of Vermont teachers feel this law hurts children and learning. Those who blindly argue that more testing improves education need only look a the facts. Countries who dramatically improve their educational systems dramatically reduce the amount of testing they do and put the lion's share of their resources into teaching. Having just worked in Tennessee schools I can tell you first hand that the success story you quoted in your editiorial is all mirage. School are teaching to the test and creative innovative teachers, the kind of teachers all our children need are being sacked or leaving the profession burnt to a crisp by checklist, scripted instruction and other travesties imposed on them by clueless administrators under the influence of politicians and textbook companies with lobbyists in Washington.
In the neighboring state of Georgia, all schools have cancelled recess at all grade levels to make more time for instruction. Meanwhile American corporations complain about the lack of innovation in their employees and spend thousands of dollars sending them to seminars where they learn how to play. When we create, one size fits all goals, we push aside real learning in favor of test passing and we turn away from the one quality that America has that no other country has in the world-- creative,innovative thinking.
Failure is not inherantly a bad thing if it is in the interest of learning and setting real educational goals. People often quote Thomas Edison,who never went to public school, when they talk about the 10,000 attempts he made before finding the right filament for a lightbulb. However the kind of failure No Child Left Behind promotes is based on arbitrary standards, created by states to keep their funding. It has Nothing to do with learning.
The flaws in this law are unfixable because the law was conceived without a pure intent. Talk to teachers, visit schools before you cast your vote for this anathema to all children and school