Education Law Goes Overboard
Some aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind education law seem to have been written without attention to common sense. An example is the provision that prohibits school districts that fail to make adequate academic progress for three years from providing free tutoring to students with federal Title I money.
You read that correctly. Students who need tutoring the most must find help outside the school system. Even highly qualified tutors with special degrees, reading certification and years of teaching experience will not be eligible to tutor students if they work in a school system that has failed to meet the rigid standards of student performance.
The reason? According to a U.S. Department of Education spokesman, to allow personnel from substandard schools to tutor students would be akin to allowing the fox to guard the henhouse. What a negative view of the
The government's reasoning is that if a school district is unable to raise student achievement with the amount of federal money it is granted, then it's not equipped to offer tutoring services after school.
This is flat-out illogical. Any child would benefit from one-on-one instruction of the type he would get from a qualified tutor he knows and trusts.
Anyone who thinks students fail to do well on standardized tests solely because their teachers are not doing enough is na´ve. The chief indicator of failure is poverty, which is why most city school districts will acutely feel the pain of this provision.
If, as expected, the entire Hartford school system is designated as underachieving, all of its certified tutors will be rendered ineligible. Schools will have to hire tutors from private or nonprofit organizations, some less qualified or experienced, in order to provide this necessary service. Exceptions will be made for students who have learning disabilities or language difficulties. In the event no private tutors can be found to serve these special circumstances, school districts will have dispensation to use federal money. Ironically, teachers from the underachieving system would be permitted to tutor students in those schools if they affiliate with a private contractor to provide those services.
How does putting struggling schools through such arbitrary rigmarole help students? As it stands, only a third of Hartford parents took
advantage of free tutoring for their children right in school, at home or on Saturdays. Making the system harder to navigate will not produce better test scores or improve learning.
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