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[Susan notes: Gary Doyle sent this letter to all of the Democratic presidential candidates. Please let his letter be inspiration to you to write the candidates, members of the Congressional education committees, your local Congressional representatives, your local newspapers, and urge everyone you know to do likewise. Like Doyle, you should emphasize that more funding is NOT the answer.



We are in crisis.]

Submitted to An Open Letter to Democratic Presidential Candidates but not published
08/16/2007

To the editor



I am writing this letter to the Democratic presidential candidates to express my deep concern about the direction of education policy in our country. I am particularly troubled by No Child Left Behind, and the devastating impact it has had on public education. As a retired educator and former superintendent of schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, I feel I must speak out on behalf of AmericaĂ¢€™s public school educators and students. It is my hope that the Democratic candidates, most of whom supported this legislation, will listen and change course for the sake of our children.



This ill conceived legislation is only beneficial to test makers and private sector profiteers who market and sell pre-packaged educational programs of questionable efficacy. Standardized testing never has and never will result in greater accountability and will not prompt the kind of systemic education reforms necessary to prepare our students for life in the 21st century. I believe the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who wisely voted against this legislation, said it best in his March 31, 2000 address at Teachers College, Columbia University:



"Making students accountable for test scores works well on a bumper sticker and it allows politicians to look good by saying that they will not tolerate failure. But it represents a hollow promise. Far from improving education, high stakes testing marks a major retreat from fairness, from accuracy, from quality and from equity."



The problems with NCLB are far deeper than the simplistic notion that "it can be fixed with more funding" suggests. NCLB is an unwarranted federal intrusion into our classrooms. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states very clearly that public education is a state, not a federal responsibility. Policymaking must happen at the local level, not in Washington DC and in corporate offices. NCLB needs to be dismantled. Efforts to restructure this legislative travesty are a waste of time, and will only further delay and hamper meaningful school reform.



America needs a leader who has the common sense to empower teachers, parents, administrators and local school boards to become the primary architects of school reform. We need a leader who understands that NCLB and other bureaucratic intrusions move us away from creating dynamic learning environments that will optimize student learning. It is my hope that a presidential candidate will step up to this important challenge and articulate a truly compelling vision for our schools, while speaking out forcefully against the re-authorization of NCLB.





Gary M. Doyle


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