NCLB: Reform Is A Mandate
Suggestion: Write the editorialists at this paper and others, telling them about our petition. Describing teachers as "optimistic" seems to imply they aren't aware of the corporate-political realities that rule the likes of Miller and Kennedy.
NCLB doesn't need "adjustment"; it needs dissolution. We can build on ESEA after all the NCLB additions are removed.
Here is the form for sending a letter to this paper.
Educators throughout the country are optimistic that Congress will adjust No Child Left Behind as it prepares to reauthorize the law next year.
NCLB, although it has laudable goals, has drawn the wrath of teachers and educational administrators, those who know education best, for its punitive characteristics in addition to what they perceive as an obsession with constant assessment over teaching.
NCLB must be re-examined and reformed, if for no other reason than most of the teachers simply don't believe in it. Their passion for education deteriorates a little every day, much in the manner of tooth decay. NCLB's primary benefactors haven't been the children as much as the testing companies who have profited from their NCLB-friendly programs.
Congress must understand that children are not robots. Neither are teachers. They are human and must be treated as such. NCLB ties its development to test scores and forces teachers to teach off a veritable script, rather than allowing for any creativity. While test scores certainly measure progress, the progress would come easier if NCLB focused on developing the people in charge of developing the children, enhancing the art of teaching.
A programmed approach to teaching and learning ignores the human element. NCLB must begin to factor basic human needs over a testing company's general suggestions. As one education Web site suggests, “Kids really do have trouble learning when they come to school with toothaches, poor vision, incipient diabetes and generally inadequate health care; when they come from impoverished homes, inadequate housing and unsafe neighborhoods; when their parents have to work two jobs to make ends meet.”
Even with a strict curriculum, trusting teachers more and giving them more autonomy would restore their belief in their jobs again.
Teachers have cringed at the time and angst their students have experienced during testing weeks. Teachers spend countless hours building self-esteem in their students, yet the tests undo the confidence built, they say. One of their suggestions is that testing periods should be shorter.
Several teachers contacted in southeastern Connecticut agree that classroom anxiety, not conducive to learning, would decrease if children were given developmentally appropriate tests. An example: Special-education students show adequate yearly progress through their individual educational plans and their portfolio work. But how can they show growth on the Connecticut Mastery Test reading section when they are not being tested at their reading level?
There are other issues. The New York Times reported earlier this week that NCLB's goal of closing test score gaps between minority and white students, with a 2014 deadline, shows little progress.
The newspaper, using researchers who based their conclusions on federal test results, state exams, SATs and other widely administered standardized assessments, reported that “studies have all concurred: the achievement gaps remain, perplexing and persistent.”
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. George Miller of California are expected to be the chairmen of the Senate and House education committees. They have one of the most important tasks ever assigned to them. They must find resources to fund NCLB's notorious “unfunded mandates.” They must give more resources to schools and to research into educational strategies to improve minority performance. That would begin by addressing the students as people and not the anonymous subjects of a testing company's experiment.
There's no denying that standards must exist in education. But NCLB's path to achieving the standards has been bigger on rhetoric than funds and humanity.
Childhood is so brief and the “fun” of school is being replaced by tedium and pressure. That's why Congress must take NCLB reform seriously. Education is too important.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES