Thursday, September 29, 2005

No Child Left Behind does disservice to educators --

Here is another column that I wish i had wrote. I quote it here in full:

By Jim Dunn

I just read the latest reports on school testing. You need a full command of the alphabet to wade though the entire test list: MAP, AYP, NCLB, SAT, PSAT, ACT, and on and on.

With all the testing we do, I wonder when the kids have time to learn? And do they only learn what will be tested?
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the main report; and, sure enough, our public education system is under attack again. Brothers and Sisters, I don't want to step on toes, but I can't dance to the same old tunes today. NCLB needs reform, now!

Just for the simple fact that NCLB reduces the meaning of public education to numbers on a page collected on one day of the year; we ought to be screaming that this is wrong. Just because it mandates change, but fails to fund the change, we should be outraged.

When we read that federal law now mandates the required remedial work be done by third party private companies - and not by districts themselves - forcing huge amounts of public funding into the private sector, our manure meter should go off the chart.

But most of all, when we see NCLB sets our schools up for failure, calls for all children to fit cookie cutter molds, including those in special education and those just learning the English language, we need to be opening our windows and yelling we are mad as hell, and we aren't going to take it.

How dare bureaucrats who know nothing about how the brain works, how children learn, how culture is transmitted or how true learning is measured be permitted to mandate tests that will ensure our schools, students, and teachers be branded as failures.

No child is being left behind now simply means our education system is no longer going anyplace meaningful; when you are going nowhere, nobody is left behind.

Honestly, do you think a student who moved into your school system and speaks no English should score average on the first English reading test he has ever taken in his life? Do you think your entire school should be labeled as NOT MAKING YEARLY PROGRESS for that student?

Special education students already suffer in school. Some of our kids have damaged brains, some have chemical im-balances in their brain that are NOT THEIR FAULT.

Do you think that child should be expected to perform as well on a test as the students who don't have such challenges? Do you think a disabled child should read the local newspaper and learn he is the reason his entire school was labeled a failure? It simply doesn't pass the fairness test.

Our democracy is based on public education, and today's attacks on our public schools make me wonder about our morality. It is way too easy to squander our opportunity to help children on meaningless debates of pointless, unsolvable issues instead of digging into the immediate problems we can do something about like clothing the poor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry and ministering to children. It isn't the smog in the air that worries me; it is the meanness, barely concealed hostility, and utter loss of civility in the air that is choking the life out of us and our schools.

NCLB is not just going away.

The relentless pressure to stack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap is not going away.

The continual search for a magic bullet that will miraculously cure all that ails public education with little effort and no cost is not going away. Neither are vouchers, political opportunists, over simplification of issues, and freedom from religious zealots who would dictate freedom's limits based on personal views.

The marketers and advertisers, the pandering politicians, the money worshippers and the greedy are coming after your kids by attacking your schools, teachers, and administrators. They intend to leave no child behind.

©Sun-News of the Northland 2005

I disagree that it won't go away. We must unite and make it all go away and get back to giving all of our kids the high quality, free public education that they deserve!

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