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NCLB Outrages

Teachers tell Courtney No Child Left Behind punitive

Kudos to teachers for speaking out. Now they need to ask themselves, "What's the next step?"

By Daniel Axelrod

NEW LONDON — U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, made his first “Listening Tour” stop Thursday at Connecticut College and local educators gave him an earful about why Congress shouldn’t renew the No Child Left Behind Act.

President George W. Bush’s 2001 education reform act, which requires all children to reach 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014, is up for reauthorization this year.

Courtney said he fully supports the state’s lawsuit against the federal government over the law’s fairness and federal funding levels.

“Going to some of these workshops for freshman congressmen, the fun way to introduce myself is to say, ‘I’m Joe Courtney, congressman from the state that’s suing the federal government over No Child Left Behind,’” Courtney said.

Beth Horler of Gales Ferry told Courtney No Child Left Behind’s test score goals are unreachable, particularly for some special education students.

“As a kindergarten teacher and a parent of a special needs child, I’ve seen my child come home exhausted from a test,” Horler said. “I’ve heard my child say, ‘Mom, I’m sorry I made my school fail (to meet the NCLB testing standards).’”

Retired Montville teacher Rosemary Coyle of Montville told Courtney, “It’s not just the money, because better funding the law won’t change that it’s set on punitive, arbitrary, (testing) benchmarks.”

Former music teacher Leah Sheikowitz of New London said the law doesn’t encourage unique children, whose talents lie in the arts.

State Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, urged Courtney to work with state education officials to increase federal funding for education.

“I’ve heard talk of fixing No Child Left Behind, but not of not reauthorizing it,” Waterford Superintendent Randy Collins said. “It has taken the joy of teaching away from our teachers.”

— By Daniel Axelrod<
Norwich Bulletin


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