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NCLB Outrages

Teachers snub Scholastic toys

Some 1,262 teachers sign a petition to complain about Scholastic offering toys in its book club catalogs and the national press jumps on it.

35,000 teachers sign a petition calling on Congress to end NCLB, and the national press yawns.

NOTE to the media: Teachers also commented when they signed the petition:

"The consequences of NCLB are far more damaging to our National Security than Iraq ever was."
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #24,432

"Death to DIBELS."
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #20,335

"I think this a part of a plan to reshape the good old USA for people who do not believe in 'by and for the people.'"
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #20,370:

"About Damn Time! "
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #20,434

"I'm glad I never attended school under the present conditions - age: 72 years."
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #18,561

"NCLB is a thinly disguised program designed to open our educational system to corporate interests. The real goal of NCLB is failure of our public school systems, paving the way for privatization through the charter school concept. We will be training our children to acquiesce to a future with no possibilities, cannon and service industry fodder and nothing more. The funds being used for one more failed Bush policy is also money generated from our taxes. I don't want to pay for it. Clear enough?"
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #18,505

"NCLB breaks children's hearts."
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #17,788:

"I have voted in every election since 1980, and will continue doing so until I die. I will always vote AGAINST anyone who FAILS to vote against NCLB."
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #16,465

"I am well on my way to becoming an embittered and mediocre teacherâ€Â­, â€Â¬who heretoforeâ€Â­, â€Â¬considered teaching to be a professionâ€Â­, â€Â¬notâ€Â­ â€Â¬a jobâ€Â­. â€Â¬I once loved what I didâ€Â­. â€Â¬I do not nowâ€Â­, â€Â¬nor do my studentsâ€Â­; â€Â¬school has become a rather grim and joyless place for allâ€Â­. â€Â¬Byâ€Â­ â€Â¬Ă˘€Â­"â€Â¬McDonald's-izingâ€Â­" â€Â¬education we have done a grave disservice to those we serveâ€Â­, â€Â¬our childrenâ€Â­. â€Â¬I despairâ€Â­. . . ."
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #13,918

"I would be willing to give up part of my salary to help cover the Federal money lost if our district told the Federal Govt we are not going to comply with the onerous NCLB standards."
—Anti- NCLB Petition signer #15,462

"Children have souls. Teachers do, too. Help us return heart, soul, and love back to our classrooms, without fear of retribution when our young charges cannot meet unrealistic standards."
—Anti- NCLB Petition signer #12,529

"This law must not be reauthorized. It is having a devastating impact on public education. We must return to the wisdom of the framers of the Constution who did not create a federalized education system in our country. NCLB is unconstitutional, unwise, destructive, unimplementable and illogical. It is the shame of our nation to make a law with high-sounding and noble rhetoric about educational equity that accomplishes just the opposite: more discrimination and reduced opportunities for our most disadvantaged students to realize their full human potential. I strongly support this effort to dismantle NCLB."
-Anti-NCLB Petition signer #1,996

"This law represents the federal takeover of America's public schools and completely undermines the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Congress should be ashamed of themselves."
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #9,047

"Senator Kennedy, this Act Sucks!!!"
—Anti-NCLB Petition signer #3576

And on and on and on. Anyone who reads the comments to this petition has to be moved and angered. The media's refusal to "notice" the voice of teachers who dare to speak out against the federal government is a disgrace.

By Bruce Horovitz

Scholastic, the longtime children's book publisher, is being sent to detention by some teachers who say its book club catalogs and fairs are too heavy on toys and too light on quality books.

Some 1,262 teachers have signed a petition by consumer group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood asking Scholastic to stop enlisting teachers to sell toys to students.

The scolding comes at a time when the world's largest educational publisher — which markets through schools and has sold more than 6 billion books over 60 years — is processing final summer book orders.

Scholastic also is the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter series.

The watchdog group says one third of the items sold in Scholastic's 2008 elementary and middle-school catalogs were either not books or books packaged with other non-book items. Besides toys, non-book items sold include stickers, science activity kits, math brain teasers, electronic dictionaries and audiobooks.

A May Scholastic catalog offers a 7½-inch Build a Bear set for $8; and an $8 battery-operated Princess Room Alarm for kids to hang on room doors to "keep nosy brothers and sisters out."

"Scholastic is taking advantage of its privileged place in schools," says Susan Linn, director of the consumer group. "Some teachers are fed up enough to say, 'Stop.' "

Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good says the charges are unfair and that Scholastic's goal is to get students to read.

"We have 1 million teachers that ask and beg us to keep doing what we're doing," she says. That's the number of teachers who take part in its book clubs and fairs, and in the process get free books or materials.

Some teacher complaints:

â€Â˘Too much branding. Scholastic used to be about great books, says Margo Ross, a kindergarten teacher at Tierra Pacifica Charter School in Santa Cruz., Calif., "but now it's about gimmicky stuff based on TV shows" like Hannah Montana books.

â€Â˘Too much stuff. At book fairs, students often pass up the books and go for the bracelets, video games and erasers, says Larry Burt, a fourth-grade teacher at Roseway Heights School in Portland, Ore. He's recently stopped passing out Scholastic book orders in his classes.

â€Â˘Too much pressure. Amie Buchman got to the point where she felt like she had to send notes of apology home with book order forms. Instead, the first-grade teacher at Pierce School in Brookline, Mass., stopped sending them. "It embarrassed me to send them home," she says.

But Laura Bush, a second-grade teacher in Vernon, Conn., says Scholastic provides a great service, even for kids who order toys. "I don't care if a child gets a SpongeBob toy if that encourages them to read. And if a child writes a wonderful story because she got a fuzzy fairy pen, that's great."

— Bruce Horovitz
USA Today


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