Eaton Co. group raising concerns about No Child Left Behind Act
Ohanian Comment: We need more of this--parents and educators joining together to speak out about NCLB. The silence harms children.
By Susan Vela
A small group of parents, teachers and residents is traveling throughout Eaton County to voice their growing concerns with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which became law in 2002.
Theresa Abed, a Grand Ledge school social worker, is part of the Dems and Friends panel now addressing those interested in the legislation demanding every child test at grade level by 2013-14.
She says there are more children getting upset and crying at school over upcoming tests and leaving for the day with more homework because of the pressure the law exerts on schools.
And, "you see teachers stressed," Abed said.
"If parents knew what was going on, they'd be in an uproar. The time that is invested in this is really taking away from the child. It's a sad change."
The panel consists of Abed, Julie Reincke, who will become an Eaton County district judge in mid-January, parent Sherry Dickerson, retired educators MaryBeth Wiechert and Harry Moore, and Tony Derezinski of the Michigan Association of School Boards.
Despite Dems and Friends' affiliation with the Eaton County Democratic Party, the panel has attracted audiences filled with Republicans, too.
Members say their main goal is to inform others about No Child Left Behind.
Their second NCLB presentation drew an audience of about 50 on Oct. 26 at Peace Lutheran Church in Charlotte.
Dickerson, who represents a parent's perspective, has children in school. A ninth-grade daughter and 12th-grade son attend Grand Ledge High School.
She has tended to dislike the Michigan Educational Assessment Program standardized test and how it doesn't account for ethnic and socioeconomic differences in children.
The emphasis on test results, she said, results in teachers and schools viewing students less as individuals.
"The No Child Left Behind Act is making things even worse," Dickerson said.
Wiechert also is concerned. After 20 years with Grand Ledge Public Schools, she retired from Neff Elementary School in 2004.
When she left, Wiechert felt that teachers had to pay so much attention to accomplishing certain lessons at certain times that their bond with children was threatened.
"You can't legislate education," Wiechert said. "That's totally ludicrous."
This is the feds view of what NCLB does.
The federal legislation is based on four principles:
• Accountability for results
• More choices for parents and guardians
• Greater local control and flexibility
• Emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research
• Student progress and achievement to be measured according to tests that will be given to every child, every year
• The data to be available to the public in annual report cards on school performance and on statewide progress
• States to put a highly qualified teacher, meeting certain criteria, in every public school classroom
• Every student to test at grade level by 2013-14
For more information or to see schools' and districts' progress, visit Michigan Department of Education online at www.michigan.gov/mde.
• A small group of parents, teachers and others associated with Dems and Friends of Eaton County wants to share its concerns about the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
• The group invites parent-teacher groups to schedule a presentation. Call moderator Harry Moore at 543-0157 or e-mail him at hj049@ hotmail.com to set up a meeting.
Lansing State Journal
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES