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[Susan notes: Here we see a great variety of strong letters for possible emulation. ]

Published in San Diego Union-Tribune

To the editor

Regarding âSchool struggles under rising federal standardsâ (A1, Sept. 30):

As professor emeritus in the College of Education

at San Diego State University, I believe that

conducting school reform without carrying out

social and economic reform, in a nation where the

rich get richer while the poor grow poorer, is

like washing the air on one side of a screen

door. It won't work. Those who claim it will can

be easily dismissed as stupid or dishonest.

No Child Left Behind is not about education or

equality; it is designed to meet the needs of

elites in a society divided by rich and poor.

NCLB regiments what children know, and how they

come to know it, by eradicating freedom in the

classroom, replacing the mind of a creative

teacher with the minds of textbook writers,

supervisors, and high stakes standardized exams

serving as a noose on all concerned.

The Big Tests measure little but class, race,

fear and subservience. Still, they are used as a

false form of science to not only restrict

knowledge (particularly history, art, music,

physical education) but to deepen segregation and

excuse inequality. Parents and youth do not have

to submit to test tyranny. It is easy and legal

to opt out. I urge a mass boycott.


San Diego

As a 30-plus-year educator and Lakeside Union

School District Teacher of the Year for 2005, I

am disgusted and disappointed by State Board of

Education President Ken Noonan's comparison of

the Chicago Cubs and âhigh-scoring high-poverty

schools.â The former Oceanside superintendent

fails to acknowledge two pretty important things:

The Chicago Cubs have something many of our

schools lack â support from the âfansâ and money.

Professional sports clubs, even if they have lost

the last 50 games, continue to have both

financial and emotional support (the financial

part is fairly key here, by the way). We all know

people, even here in San Diego, who are absolute

nuts for the Cubs. They have hats, shirts, pens

and pencils, and a vast array of âGo Cubsâ items to show their support.

And now the financial part. The last time I

looked, even in a lousy season there is still

somebody ready to pay for tickets and others to

provide financial support (including the

television stations and their commercial

advertisers on the major networks â BIG bucks).

Now, places like Balboa Elementary School. Fans?

Well, I bet you lunch that the teachers,

custodial staff, cafeteria staff, the

administration and many of the parents and

students wear âGo Balboa Elementary Schoolâ

T-shirts on Fridays. And money? How many schools

like Balboa receive money from CBS, NBC, FOX,

etc. for a weekly âshowâ on Prentice-Hall Reading

or Scholastic Math in fourth grade?



Regarding âTurning back the clock on education reformâ (Opinion, Sept. 30):

Ruben Navarrette Jr. and Education Secretary

Margaret Spellings think that requiring all

children be at or above grade level by 2014 is a

good idea. I am a professor emeritus at the

University of Southern California's Rossier

School of Education, and I have a math question

for them: How can all children be at or above

grade level when grade level means the 50th

percentile? How can all children be at or above average?


Los Angeles

As a teacher, I suppose I should apologize for

the fact that I am unable to get every single one

of my students to achieve. According to NCLB, if

they're still not at grade level by 2014, I have failed.

Imagine I'm a doctor with 200 emphysema patients

and my task is to heal them by 2014. I could give

them every form of assistance. But if my patients

still choose to smoke and to ignore my advice,

does that mean I'm a failure as a physician?

I am absolutely sick of people accusing teachers

of advocating low standards, talking about us as

if we've hopped on some gravy train because we

have nothing better to do than pick the pockets

of taxpayers. Ruben Navarrette Jr. is probably

unaware that last month I had students who ran

away from home, got suspended for using ecstasy,

missed days because they met with probation

officers or worked excessive hours. Many drink

(some with their parents), go on school-time

vacations, and a few more just don't care about

school. If Navarrette thinks testing and

accountability will fix those problems, he needs to go back to school.


La Mesa

As a 23-year-old science teacher, I am very

concerned about the welfare of our children's

education. Standards are essential, but there is

a fundamental flaw in creating standardized tests

to evaluate a child's progress toward meeting

meaningful standards. A standardized norm-based

test is constructed so that by definition, 50

percent of the pupils given that test will fall

below the mean. Graph the California STAR scores, and you will find just that.

Lower socio-economic subgroups, English-learners

and students with special learning challenges

make up the majority of âfailingâ students in

these tests. Twelve factors hinder their

achievement, but NCLB does not address these

issues. In fact, it is preventing schools from

attending to them. Some students in these groups

are not capable of functioning at âgrade levelâ

even if they are growing academically and working

to the best of their ability.

What we need to do is to help all children

achieve their highest potential. We need to

define real standards (not just ânormâ-based

standards) that are benchmarks for every child to

meet along the way of their education. Perhaps

the whole concept of age-related grade levels is

out of date and should be replaced with standard achievement levels instead.


Del Mar

The No Child Left Behind law is a scheme by

Republicans to force public schools to fail,

thereby allowing the rich to subsidize sending

their children to private schools with vouchers.

Voucher money will not be enough to allow the

poor to attend a decent private school.

A free public education is the real melting pot.

Getting rid of public schools and handing out

vouchers or tax breaks will not get my children

into La Jolla Country Day or any other elite

private school. It will just be another break for

the rich to the detriment of the middle class and poor.


University City

multiple authors

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