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NCLB Outrages


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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review is an online journal and archive of alternative news. It has been on the web since 1995.

by Sam Smith

EDUCATOR ROUNDTABLE - Thousands of educators, parents, and concerned citizens are participating in a coordinated movement to end the No Child Left Behind Act. Spearheading the effort is the Educator Roundtable, which has issued a petition calling on legislators to vote against reauthorizing the law. In its first week the petition received over 12,000 signatures. Read the full text of the petition.

Longtime educator Marion Brady - one of the petition's authors-explains that opponents of the legislation are "fed up with the law's simplistic approach to education reform and how it wastes student potential, misallocates teaching resources, shrinks the curriculum, and threatens the future of our democratic republic by undermining public education."

News of the petition has spread with great enthusiasm among parents and teachers, who often leave poignant commentary along with their signatures. Writes one teacher, "I am retiring early. We feel we are fleeing a sinking ship, after giving our entire lives to our students and our profession. It is a sad way to end a career." And a parent offers, "I feel like my little boy is being groomed for a life on an assembly line rather than being taught how to think and be creative."

The Educator Roundtable petition cites several arguments against NCLB. Chief among them are:

- NCLB misdiagnoses the causes of poor educational development, blaming teachers and students for problems over which they have no control.

- NCLB uses pseudo-science to justify policies and programs that are damaging public education—including diverting taxes away from communities into corporate coffers.

- NCLB rates and ranks public schools using procedures that will gradually label them all "failures" by creating unrealistic Adequate Yearly Progress goals, which set schools up to be "saved" by vouchers, charters, or privatization.

SUSAN OHANIAN - NEA bigwigs have denounced our grassroots petition advocating the dismantling of NCLB, instructing members not to sign. They say we have offered no positive alternatives. What we offer is democracy, the voices of thousands of teachers, which probably scares NEA as much as it scares the corporate politicos.

OK, we have only 20,876 signatures. But this is strictly by word of mouth--no help from the press--Undernews being a notable exception. We are operating with no money--just a conviction that public education is important enough to fight for.

Assorted comments made by petition signers tell the tale:

- NCLBA undermines children's insatiable desire to learn and replaces it instead with coercion, threats, isolation and intimidation.

- I think this a part of a plan to reshape the good old USA for people who do not believe in "by and for the people"

- I am a Principal of an Elementary School. I would love for a legislator to see my boderline MR children cry their way through this Standards Based Assessment we administer each year.

— Sam Smith


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