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NCLB Outrages

Why I Iam signing the petition against renewal of NCLB

by Tom Keating

In 1967 my second year of teaching in Atlanta, I emptied the room before the students returned in August. My five periods were full of kids who hated school and hated English, the subject I taught. We created U.S.A. G.E (United States of America Grammatical English). Gradually with ideas from students we designed our classroom with furniture, books, and other equipment. The Atlanta public library had started a telephone service answering research questions. When we requested a telephone the principal, a rigid nun, put her foot down. Image schools without telephone computer hookups now. I was able to eliminate quizzes and tests, and the students let me work them to death. Some still hug me forty years later when we see each other in a local post office.

Recently I visited an Atlanta middle school and glimpsed the future and I recoiled. At first I thought the student art work signified a good trend, often missing in middle and high school – visible student essays, pictures, and materials. However when I studied the documents they were rigid displays of charts, paragraphs, and drawings all geared toward standardized state tests. In fact a recent middle school instructor at a local Georgia state university, said she tells her perspective students her world of teaching from the eighties and nineties is gone – it is now test scores under the guise of “accountability.”

I am not saying I was the best teacher in my second of now 37 years as an educator. However, I am claiming that I influenced lives, even changed lives. A student who believes he or she can’t spell and then learns Supercalifraglisticexpialidotious gains confidence.

I am signing the petition against renewal of NCLB not because I am against accountability. Nor do I deny that too many public schools, where I have concentrated my career, have failed to educate challenging students. I am signing because the result of compliant test-driven schooling goes against all that I believe.

Now forty years later, I have seen the future so I am going to follow the vision and approach, which have sustained my professional life. Creative and caring effort works with students. I will continue to exemplify the root meaning of “educare,” that is leading out of each student his or her best in order to reach his or her potential and hopefully help others.

— Tom Keating
Project Clean


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