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NCLB Outrages

It's Not the Math

Ohanian Comment: We need the professional associations to which educators belong to fight hard for developmental appropriateness, to speak out against "first grade teachers being forced to teach second grade work," and to solicit the help of organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and so on. The collective silence is doing great harm to our children--and destroying our profession.

by Peg Thompson Oliver, Edinburg, TX

It's not the Math...it's the curiosity, the imagination, the creativity that fuels all successful engineering and other "design," claims a Texas group that tracks education trends.

The Coalition of Literacy Services questions the wisdom of President Bush's narrow insistence on Math and Science for "every child," as well as No Child Left Behind's "one-size-fits-all" exit-level tests and grade levels set at literally one grade above normal, at least, based on a 1960 UNvalidated hypothesis.

First grade teachers are forced to teach second grade work, wiping the children's tears, mopping up their vomit, calming their parents' fears, while older students, frustrated by continuous failure, drop out or are "non-graduated."

Peg Thompson Oliver, M. Ed., CLS founder, 1984, protests that, instead of a confident, hopeful populace, whose combined, nurtured talents could continue to take -- not force -- our beloved country realistically and successfully into the future, the president's "sweeping signature education law" is "leaving behind" tens of thousands of Americans who are dangerously humiliated, devastated, and hopeless, crippling and further impoverishing his own state, as well as the other states with the most minorities.

The 86-year old director of CLS finds, through her own extended family and 22 years of teaching thousands of students in open, self-paced GED in all the public libraries in Hidalgo County, that each one of us -- red, yellow, brown, white, black, and all the beautiful mixtures -- is "smart" in many ways, that we all have a variety of natural talents (Gifts from God, inherited, quirks of the brain?) that define us, motivate us, give us purpose -- and often lead to satisfying jobs. Our IQ -- Intelligence Quotient -- can be raised little -- if at all, but we can, and do, "work hard" to improve on our inborn talents every chance we get, practicing, experimenting, adapting, innovating, perfecting, challenging ourselves.

Business, which is running the President's education program, thrives on Big Winners and Big Losers -- with no "accountability" for the losers (think ENRON, of course.) Its runaway train is forcing the high schools and universities to be the "academic (math-and-science) elite" it has craved since the l983 report, A Nation at Risk, with bipartsan leaders hopping onto the bandwagon, apparently blind to the dangers.

The states, with their shameful lack of attention to the education, literacy, and self-development of their adults (the reason I moved to Texas from Wisconsin after my husband died) -- the "roots" of the poverty, hunger, underemployment, are hugely "accountable" for their many Title 1 (poor community, "disadvantaged" students, expensive-to-run) public schools, so vulnerable now to the Bush government as it tries to save money by "breaking" the schools.

States across the country are predicting that all of their schools will fail before "all sub-groups are expected to pass all tests at 100% by 2014."

The president has obviously learned the virtue of cooperation in global diplomacy. Will Business allow him to "learn" as quickly the virtues of cooperation and moderation, of broad vision, in making needed changes to education?

The Bush administration's "legacy" depends on this "war," too.

— Peg Thompson Oliver, M. Ed., CLS founder


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