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 Ă˘€“ 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 Ă˘€“ it is now test scores under the guise of Ă˘€śaccountability.Ă˘€ť
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 canĂ˘€™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 Ă˘€śeducare,Ă˘€ť that is leading out of each student his or her best in order to reach his or her potential and hopefully help others.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES