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[Susan notes: We must all rejoice when an educator speaks out.]

Published in The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, VA

To the editor

Children are not goods for market

March 12, 2007

As quoted in a recent Daily Progress story (âNew rules for No Child? Area educators react to groupâs recommendations,â Feb. 26), Albemarle County public schoolsâ Tom Nash [Director of Special Education and Student Services] said, âHere we are in a country that has standards for gasoline, hamburger meat and highways, and we say we donât want to have national standards for our schools.â

This comment by Mr. Nash reinforces to the general public continued misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the No Child Left Behind legislation and the effects of its standards on students, teachers and parents.

Under current NCLB legislation, control of what is taught in the classroom is given to people and organizations many times removed from the children they claim to serve. As a result, NCLB reflects the views primarily of business and industry leaders rather than those of parents and working educators.

Current NCLB legislation ignores the root causes of poor educational development, blaming teachers and students for problems over which they have little or no control.

NCLB relies on market forces to improve schools, which suggests that learning must be manipulated like tangible goods and services.

NCLB legislation forces schools to follow a rigid testing format, with no flexibility for imagination, creativity or individuality of the students or their teachers.

NCLB legislation emphasizes minimum educational standards rather than maximum development of human potential, and results in many unintended consequences - increased drop-out rates, loss of teacher autonomy and professionalism, negative student reaction to excessive rote instruction and drill, increased costs of testing and test-related materials, the destructiveness of the âfailureâ label.

Improvement of our public education system will never successfully occur by measuring students and teachers in the same manner as âgasoline, hamburger meat, and highways.â

Our children are not toxic, disease-harboring, tangible goods and services. Measuring schools by standards similar to those used to regulate industries listed by Mr. Nash is grossly inappropriate and irresponsible.

âHuman history,â said H.G. Wells, is âa race between education and catastrophe.â If we stay the course with No Child Left Behind, catastrophe is certain to be another unintended consequence.

Heather Williams

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