Nationwide petition seeks end to No Child Left Behind
Remember, The Obama/Duncan plan for changing NCLB is to institute National Standards and Testing and tie teacher evaluations to student scores on standardized tests.
by Laura Manuel
During the calendar year 2008, scholars and educational practitioners advanced a petition calling for the elimination of the educationally inappropriate requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation. The petition called for repeal of the legislation, not its repair, and it was not because educators resist accountability. One year later, in 9-point font, the printed petition is the size of a rather comprehensive dictionary, 715 pages.
The preamble of the petition sets forth 16 educationally sound, articulate reasons for rejecting the overreaching destructive policy inherent in the legislation. Let's examine a few of these.
First, the authors of the petition noted that NCLB misdiagnoses the causes of poor educational development, blaming teachers and students for problems over which they have no control. NCLB removes control of what is taught from local school boards, parents and teachers and replaces it with centralized "top-down" management of schools.
This legislation has also allowed life-changing decisions about students to hinge on a single measure of perfromance. Higher-ordered thinking skills were bypassed in favor of test content that can be quickly machine graded.
Diversity in course work has also been driven out of the curriculum as art, music, physical education and other subjects not easily tested have been devalued or completely ignored. The articles also addressed the fact that these standards and assessments were not driven by sound educational research or practice, but rather by the complicity of politicians and publishing houses far removed from real student and classroom concerns.
As the document criss-crossed the country, 34,858 people supported the 16 articles in the preamble and signed the document. Many teachers, parents, students and community workers added poignant comments about the harmful ramifications of the NCLB legislation that they personally had experienced.
Turn to any page in the 715 page document, and you'll find comments such as this one from a teacher: "I see the devastation NCLB is causing. We must find a better way." Another teacher wrote: "I'm appalled by the political pressure overruling the 80-plus years of research on child development by Piaget, Gessell, and others." Or this one from a parent: "I am shocked at the negative impact this has had on the quality of teaching in my district." Or this one from a detention center worker: "I support dismantling NCLB. I work in the juvenile detention center and have seen its effects there." Or one from a professor: "NCLB is robbing our children not only of a good education, but of their childhoods."
Signers of the petition are keenly aware that sound educational practice requires professionals to connect with the talents and needs of their charges. One sign of a strong democracy is a viable public education system. What they can we do? You can join us in stopping this politically-driven educational malpractice and keep our public school system sound.
Participate first by going online to http://www.educatorroundtable.org and by examining the comments in the petition now available at Centennial Library in Greeley.
Laura Manuel has a Ph.D. in educational psychology and teaches at Front Range Community College. A former police officer, she lives in Greeley with her husband.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES