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NCLB Outrages

'No Child Left Behind' fails children

By Rosemary Rivera

As a Rochester parent, the more I learn about the No Child Left Behind Act, the more I realize that it has caused more damage to our children than good.

NCLB has four main goals that include academic accountability, flexibility, choices for parents in high-needs districts and "scientific" teaching methods.

Certainly, I want to know how my children are progressing. However, I cannot hold my daughters to the same yardstick as other children. Besides, why would I want to compare my child with a child who comes from a wealthier home, with much more educated parents, and with the means and time to concentrate on promoting their children's education?

Furthermore, I have an issue with the tests given to my children.

First, what is the return on our investment? According to the American Association of Publishers, sales of standardized tests tripled to nearly $600 million since NCLB was enacted in 2002. In 2000, faulty test results resulted in the need for thousands of students in New York state to attend summer school. And, of course, although I want my child to be accustomed to taking a test, I don't want that to be the focus of her education.

It reminds me of statistics class. I could pass statistic tests with flying colors, but I truly did not comprehend the theories behind the problems. Therefore, statistics is a foreign language to me, but my college transcript says I have an "A" in the class. Besides, I want to know who compiles the material that deems my child "proficient," and how well they understand my children's abilities.

Thus far, there has been little accountability for test results. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, by the year 2010, an estimated 70 percent of schools will be labeled as failing.

At this point, I also have no clue about the choices available to parents in high-needs districts. No one has offered me any meaningful choices. As for the goal of "scientific" teaching methods, does that refer to super-sized, one-size-fits-all educational programs, such as America's Choice, that take away the ability of a teacher, who works with my child daily, to make valid decisions on how best to teach my child?

I am a Hispanic woman without a college degree, with African-American children who are part of the working class. My daughter who just graduated from high school was supposed to have benefited from NCLB; instead, in several ways, she was left behind, and although now in college, lacks many vital academic skills. I see NCLB as another hurdle that our poor and minority children are forced to overcome under the guise of better education.

Rivera is the local organizer for the Alliance for Quality Education.

— Rosemary Rivera
Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle


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