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NCLB Outrages

"Throw the Whole Damn Thing Out"

Ohanian Comment: 3 Cheers! These educators are talking mass refusal. It's the only thing that will work.

Some area educators argued the best way to deal with the flawed federal law requiring students to be proficient in reading, science and math is to refuse to comply with it.

State legislators, teachers' representatives and school administrators met Thursday in Montgomeryville for a roundtable discussion most of which focused on the frustrations of the educational reform act called No Child Left Behind.

Making changes to the act that requires every public school student to be proficient in reading, math and science by 2014 can be compared to trying to suddenly change the direction of a steaming ocean liner, said Neil Samuels, a Democrat running for the 143rd House District seat.

He said it may be impossible to do without specific goals for legislators and parents.

''You need to paint a picture so people could understand that this act could cause good schools to close down,'' Samuels said. ''The reason this act passed in the first place is because people want teachers to be policed and know they are accountable.''

The flaws in the act include a lack of funding and the assumption that all students learn at the same pace, said James Sando, president of the mideastern region of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Tweaking various aspects of the act won't help, said

Under No Child Left Behind, schools must test students in Grades 3 to 8 annually in reading and in math. In 2007, science will be added.

Schools that fail to meet the standards could be required to allow students to transfer to better performing schools.

The act focuses the entire educational process on testing, Sando said.

''Testing is not what learning is about. Learning is about discovery,'' he said. ''Ask any educator what has happened in our schools and they'll all say the focus has changed from education to tests.''

Most parents in a school district don't understand the federal law and don't want it, said Robert Kish, Pennridge School District superintendent.

''Talk to the parents within the school district and you'll find 80 percent saying they are very satisfied,'' he said. ''The law is a wonderful sound bite for saying it supports children, but a terrible idea to practice.''

The next step for educators to consider may be an act of civil disobedience, said Jerry Oleksiak, a teacher in the Upper Merion School District.

''I want superintendents to stand up and say they aren't going to do this to our children,'' he said. ''If one does it, they would be looking for work the next day. But if we can get all 501 to do it, they would have no choice but to listen and understand the problems.''

The roundtable discussion was sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the Council for the Advancement of Public Schools, a group comprised of 46 educational Steve McCarter, a teacher in the Lower Merion School District.

''The answer in my mind is to throw the whole damn thing out,'' he said. ''If we try to change certain aspects or pieces, we'll end up fighting to the death until 2014.''associations that represent more than 14,000 public educators in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

pamela.lehman@mcall.com

— Pamela Lehman
Educators lament federal act
Morning Call
2004-05-14
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-b1_2schoolmay14,0,6200674.story?coll=all-newslocal-hed


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