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NCLB Outrages

Knowing What Education Is About

This teacher offers an education blog. The principal's letter he refers to was mentioned in this Washington Post article by Marc Fisher:


When it comes to that train wreck of a law No Child Left Behind, not too many people with a voice seem to have backbone enough to stand up to the politicians pushing this crap. Iím proud to say that the principal of a school in the overly large district I work for is one of them. The school [Bailey's Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences in Falls Church] is one of the most diverse in the area with large numbers of kids from families in poverty and may who speak little English. At the beginning of the summer they were widely expected to be on the list of "failing" schools in August.

Rather than me ranting on, here is what the principal had to say to parents in a letter sent home this past summer.

Itís an ax hanging over our heads," says Jean Frey, the principal, who has to explain to parents that if Baileyís is declared failing, the county could fire its teachers, and families would have the right to transfer to another school.

"I have no problem with being accountable," Frey says. "As a citizen, I want these kids to grow up to be literate problem-solvers." But she will not shutter her science lab, pull the plug on theatrical productions or tell teachers to scrap a literature discussion to drill kids on test facts.

"The testing itself is enormously time-consuming," Frey says. "We give up over two weeks in May to the tests. So the rest of the year, we try very hard not to do ĎSOL [Standards of Learning - our Virginia tests] Prep Time,í like many schools do. How important is knowing how to fill in ABCD? I donít do that very often as an adult."

In the end the school was not in the "failing" category when the test results came back in later summer. If they had, I doubt many parents would have elected to move their kids as the law allows. Itís hard to find a principal who understand that education is more than multiple guess tests. We need more of them who are willing to speak up.

— Tim Stahmer
Assorted Stuff


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