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NCLB Outrages

Group: NCLB undermines own goals

Here is a Colorado group using the Educator Roundtable video in just the way we hoped, as a catalyst for group discussion. As ER says on their website: Watch it with your neighbors.

by Chris Casey

The reform movement that yokes No Child Left Behind law and its standardized tests to public education is seriously flawed, according to a group that gathered for a luncheon Tuesday.

Eighteen people, meeting at the Family Resource Center in Greeley, watched a 40-minute DVD produced by the Educator Roundtable, a national group that's collecting signatures on a petition calling for the dismantling of the federal law enacted in 2002.

The law sets a goal of all students reaching proficiency in reading and math by 2014. The act, which is up for Congressional renewal this year, has been widely criticized by educators and politicians as unrealistic and burdensome. Schools failing to meet the annual targets -- measured by standardized tests, such as the Colorado Student Assessment Program -- face penalties ranging from being forced to pay for tutoring programs or, in the worst case, being taken over by the state.

Two schools in Greeley-Evans School District 6 -- Billie Martinez and Bella Romero elementary schools -- dipped into the law's "in need of improvement" phase for falling short of targets for consecutive years.

The anti-NCLB tone of the video drew nods of approval from the lunch gathering, most of whom are members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Pat Kennedy, a longtime teacher in Greeley-Evans School District 6, said the law's rigid requirements and focus on tests were so frustrating it caused her to leave the classroom.

"We've got to do something about No Child Left Behind," Kennedy said, "because what's happening in Greeley public schools is being driven by No Child Left Behind."

Kennedy said the law forces teachers to instruct to a one-size-fits-all standard that's geared to annual tests. Creativity, collaboration and hands-on skills get lost in the process, she said, leaving students shy of the very abilities the law is meant to foster.

"It's like shooting yourself in the foot," Kennedy said.

Lesley Manring said she fears the law is causing families to leave public schools in favor of private alternatives.

The biggest problem with CSAP, Manring said, is that underperforming schools are punished with the threat of being stripped of federal funding.

"It's this punitive thing that absolutely has no place in education," she said. "If a child is suicidal do you take away the help? No, you give more help."

Another audience member said students have different styles of learning and not all students do well on tests; two of her three children were not "testers."

"I have grandchildren coming up and I don't want my grandchildren evaluated on how they test because it's not an indicator of future success in and of itself," she said.

— Chris Casey
The Tribune
2007-09-25


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