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NCLB Outrages

Comment: Because of TAKS, child's love of learning is left behind

Ohanian Comment: Where is the teacher outrage? When will our teacher unions stand up and resist this outrage?

As I sent my 10-year-old son to school today, I was saddened, enraged and concerned about the education he is receiving.

He is taking the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. I am saddened that he hates to go to school and finds learning a chore. I am saddened that he is so stressed at school that Pepto-Bismol waits for him at the nurse's office in case his stomach starts bothering him. I am saddened that he is so worried about passing the TAKS test that it interferes with his physical and mental well-being.

I am enraged with the slogan "No child left behind." My child is left behind. He will pass the test and go on to the next grade, but he is left with a yearning not for learning or reading but to get out of school, a yearning to get away from books and learning. This is not what I want for my child.

"No child left behind" should mean providing my children with a love for learning and the yearning to continue to higher education, not a yearning to get out of school.

My children happen to be from an educated family. I am a former teacher and my husband is an architect with a master's degree. My son knows higher education is not a choice in our family, but he is already counting the years until he graduates so he no longer has to attend school.

What are we teaching our children? One test is worth more than all the hard work they have struggled through all year. If you don't pass, don't worry. You get a chance to take it two more times. Then if you still fail, you will go to summer school. Your parents and school officials will sit in a meeting and discuss whether you have worked hard enough to go on to the next grade level.

The child is left with a love for learning? No! Children are left behind not because they didn't pass a multiple-choice test, but because they have learned to hate learning.

Teachers are forced to teach children how to take the test. Yes, they are teaching the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum, but they are forced to teach in a testing format. What a disservice they would be doing to our children if they didn't teach them the format! Textbooks are being sold not for their creative teaching ideas but how many TAKS-formatted questions they have to go with stories and problem-solving skills.

More and more highly qualified teachers are lost each year. I have worked with many motivating, caring and capable teachers throughout the years. But teaching this way takes a toll on even the best teachers.

Some people think they can take a break from the real world and become a successful teacher. They are right on one level; they don't need skills in grooming the entire child because we aren't doing that anymore.

Although I believe parents are the first teachers, teachers do spend eight hours each day with our children. Therefore, I don't want someone with my child who thinks he or she can take a break and start teaching. I want someone to spend the day with my child who has dreamt of teaching for years and made plans to help the struggling child and encourage the high achiever to go beyond what is expected.

I am forced to believe this is no longer happening. I am staring at the clock knowing my son is taking the test right now, praying for God to wash away his fears at this very moment. I am also thinking of my daughter in second grade. What is in store for her?

She loves to read and learn ... for now.

Tami Garcia lives in San Antonio.

— Tami Garcia
San Antonio Express-News


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