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NCLB Outrages

Impossible Standards Need to Be Left Behind

Just as Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) co-opted President Bush into signing his "No Child Left Behind" bill into law, Indiana's State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Suellen Reed was co-opted into making a Core 40 high school diploma soon a requirement for all high school graduates. Just as mandatory Core 40 is unrealistic for everyone, NCLB is equally impossible to attain.

The 2005 National Superintendent of the Year, Monte Moses, of Colorado's Cherry Creek School District, has called for, "a strong dose of common sense," regarding NCLB, and has said, "some of (its) rules are unrealistic" (USA Today, February 22).

NCLB is weeding-out those teaching for all the wrong reasons, such as slackers who go into teaching to have their summers off, and that uniquely American phenomenon of those who become "teachers" only so they can coach. However, NCLB is also driving-out of the teaching profession many dedicated, true educators.

For those who think teaching is an easy profession with summers off and seven-hour days, times have really changed. NCLB has hamstrung our teachers with goals that are impossible to reach, especially at inner-city schools. This includes an eastern Indiana high school, where 80 percent of students are on free or reduced-price lunches. No matter how hard its teachers work, its students will never, ever attain the passing rate demanded by NCLB. NCLB is unrealistic, as it does not adequately take demographics and social factors into account.

There is something wrong with an education system where teachers are never, ever done with their work, to include grading and planning, no matter how many hours they put in. This causes stressful disruption of family life for teachers, many of whom have already become "social workers" in the classroom, rather than simply being allowed to TEACH ...

Public education is the backbone of the United States. We pride ourselves in the fact that our education has been free to all of our citizens for almost 150 years. However, our education system must be tailored to each student. It is impossible to demand that all students graduate with a Core 40 diploma, as this causes teachers to teach formerly college-prep subjects to the lowest common denominator. When I was in high school, biology was a college-prep course. Today, it is being demanded that ALL freshmen must take biology, which has resulted in a very watered-down version of biology being taught.

Rather than trying to make all students take what were supposed to be college-prep courses, our schools should offer three tracks, such as college-prep, tech-prep, and basic, which many schools once offered. Such tracks would be very similar to the German education system, and not lead to the frustration and resultant discipline problems caused by many students, who have been forced into formerly college-prep courses ...

NCLB leaves behind talented students those with talents outside of academics. These students become frustrated with academic subjects out of line with their career goals. Schools should offer a focus on life-skills education, such as budgeting and balancing a checkbook, for these students, and more vocational education. Not every student wants to go to college, and a majority of jobs becoming available will not require a four-year degree. Frankly, I wouldn't care if my car mechanic has studied four years of literature.

The advantage of our educational system is that it provides choices for all. However, all of these choices don't have to be made at once. Non-traditional students often make the best students, because they have chosen a career, and they are self-motivated.

Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia are in various stages of opposition to NCLB. This ranges from banning expenditures of state money (as NCLB is a somewhat unfunded federal mandate) to opting-out of NCLB altogether, which means giving-up millions in federal funding (Washington Times, February 23). It is time for the Indiana state legislature to study its options.

Nate LaMar of Henry County is a member of the Palladium-Item writers panel.

— Nate LaMar


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