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NCLB Outrages

Students, Parents & Community Leaders Speak Out on No Child Left Behind

Ohanian Comment: One can wonder how enforced parent involvement provisions will work, particularly for families where the parents are working multi-jobs to make ends meet.

The conclusion here is that "school success is a shared responsibilitly." I think it's more accurate to say that school success is intertwined with a living wage. Families are in desperate need of economic support as well as qualified teachers.

As we pointed out in Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? the Ten Point Framework which guides PEN, which is a national association of local education funds, is remarkably similar to the Business Roundtable's nine-point plan. Remember: on July 18, 2003, PEN president Wendy Puriefoy appeared on a panel addressing the House Budget Committee Democratic Caucus and the Senate Democratic Policy Committee to thank them for passing No Child Left Behind. She asked Congress to fully fund NCLB, promising that PEN "will be blitzing the media and elected officials with information about what underfunding of NCLB and the tax cut are doing to classrooms."

PEN is not in an ideological/financial position to attack on the basic premise of NCLB, and they don't come even close with this report.

NOTE: Here are the results of the 2005 PEN Online Survey.

Press Release

Public Education Network

Published: May 1, 2006

Public Hearings Across the Country Reveal Confusion, Concern, and Anger Over Implementation of NCLB

WASHINGTON, DC-Public concern over implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is rising, according to a new report (pdf file) issued today by Public Education Network. Open to the Public: The Public Speaks out on No Child Left Behind, identifies specific concerns voiced by more than 1500 parents, students, taxpayers, and community leaders at open public hearings from September to January of this year. The hearings were designed to gain grassroots and civic input on the law from groups often left out of the policy debate, yet profoundly impacted by its implementation.

Throughout the hearings, the public rejected a single test as an accurate measure of school improvement. Parents and community leaders indicated that discrepancies between state and federal measures of school progress have created a deep mistrust of high-stakes tests and other NCLB indicators as accurate assessments of school performance. And, they believe that accountability must be expanded to include additional measures of school and student progress, developed with the input of local educators, parents, and the community.

Americans are also angered by the labeling of schools as "in need of improvement" because they say that this label erodes public support for these schools. Rather than increasing the public's sense of responsibility for demanding additional support and resources, 'in need of improvement' labels are perceived as punitive and can result in student, teacher, and community abandonment of the very schools most in need of support.

"Americans support the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and believe accountability is necessary to improve our public schools," said Public Education Network (PEN) President Wendy D. Puriefoy. "This law was written with a specific emphasis on public and parental involvement at the center of the legislation. We heard repeated testimony that the public felt uninformed and, in some cases, actively excluded from having a voice in the school improvement process."

Feedback from students revealed that they experience enormous pressure passed along from teachers and administrators worried about school performance. NCLB testing places excessive stress on students, particularly English language learners and special education students, causing some to drop out. Students were concerned they did not have the support and resources they needed to meet the requirements of the law.

At the hearings, parents made it clear that they do not receive timely information about the law and that the purpose of NCLB assessments is not explained to parents and students. In general, parents felt uninformed of their roles and responsibilities under NCLB and did not feel involved in decision-making.

However, while parents and students voiced their frustration and concern, they did say they were willing to do their part to improve public schools in their communities. They believe that schools cannot achieve the goals of NCLB alone and that community support and accountability are crucial for school and student success. Parents believe that part of accountability means providing kids with the academic, social, and community supports they need to succeed and called for shared responsibility within the community.

The public also recommended the following changes to the law and its implementation including:

  • Accountability that truly supports measurable student achievement and gives credit for significant progress made.

  • Improved academic resources for students, including increased quality and availability of supplemental educational services.

  • An expanded definition of "highly qualified teachers" to include training on parent and community involvement as well as on cultural competency.

  • Enforced parent involvement provisions so parents can participate in meaningful ways and administration officials can more effectively engage parents.

  • "School success is a shared responsibility and the public recognizes that their involvement is critical to improving the schools in their communities," said Puriefoy. "Now, we must engage them in meaningful ways to help us determine how we can provide our students with the support they need to succeed."

    Public hearings were held in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, New York City, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. The hearings represent the second of three sets of national forums to be held by PEN and regional partners to help inform the law's reauthorization in 2007. The complete national report, as well as the individual state reports, is available online at www.PublicEducation.org.

    — Press Release
    Public Education Network (PEN)


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