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Leaving Children Behind

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Posted on Jan 30, 2007
Signing ceremony
Wikipedia

President Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Act at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio, in 2002.

By Paul Cummins

Recently I was asked to join three others in a radio interview concerning the pros and cons of the No Child Left Behind debate.  The others were temperate, balanced and guarded in their judgments.  One, from the Fordham Institute, offered several intelligent insights and speculated that it is probably too soon to render an accurate assessment of the program’s efficacy.  The other two interviewees were public school principals who, I believe, were trying to be fair and politically careful in not leveling any harsh criticisms.  When asked by the moderator, Warren Olney, what’s good and what’s bad about the bill, both stated that it was good to design clear standards and to identify, by groups, who is and who isn’t measuring up.  When addressing the “what’s bad” question, they suggested—rather guardedly, I thought—that perhaps not enough resources were being allotted to enable the schools to really succeed, and that some teachers may believe that the test narrows the curriculum too much and forces them to teach to the test.

In the face of all this politeness, I felt compelled to fire away with both barrels—as best I could, given the sound bites that radio compels one to issue.  So, unlike the other three, I intemperately, unguardedly and one-sidedly made the following comments about No Child Left Behind (NCLB):

1. In fact, NCLB does force the teachers to teach to test; consequently it squeezes the joy out of teaching for both teacher and student.

2. It narrows the curriculum to math and reading because those are the areas tested.  The arts, human development, physical education, community service, environmental education, field trips and other electives are given short shrift, at best.

3. Several teachers I have spoken with even say they are so depressed by the pressure and narrowness of the test that they are about to quit the field.  In reality, I have yet to talk to one classroom teacher who has had anything positive to say about NCLB.

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4. I will say quite boldly what one of the two principals only alluded to, namely, that public schools—particularly inner-city schools—are hugely underfunded.  Overcrowded classes filled with non-English-speaking students, bereft of books and supplies, need dramatic increases in funds.  In Los Angeles, for example, the per-pupil spending is $7,000-$8,000 per year; by contrast, quality private schools—which offer what public schools should but cannot provide—spend more than $25,000 per pupil.  Unlimited billions for Iraq, but not enough for our children.  But that is a rant from previous blogs—a rant I will no doubt continue to hurl into the tax-cuts void.

5. The real problem is that students are disengaged from their education, and disengaged students ultimately drop out, as more than 50 percent do in large urban and poor rural schools.  The antidote to dropouts is a rich and diverse curriculum offered under improved teaching conditions.

6. If we really wanted to see that no child was left behind we would cut class sizes by half in inner-city schools, which would require hiring 100 percent more teachers in those schools, and we would obtain top-quality additional teachers by providing a pay increase of $25,000 a year across the board.  If prison guards can make $75,000 to $100,000 a year, why can’t teachers?  These changes would, of course, demand increased revenue that would, alas, require everyone—including wealthy individuals and corporations—to pay their fair share of taxes.  Good luck!

So I say, fine, let’s test children periodically and let’s set high standards for our schools and our children.  But beyond testing, let’s realize that diagnosis is just the beginning.  To solve problems, you need to be willing to go the whole way down difficult roads, and to do this will require a far greater commitment than the federal government and civic leaders have given any indication they are willing to make.  Our teachers and inner-city schools are facing overwhelming and heartbreaking odds, and we are letting them down.


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By UAH_Charger, April 26, 2007 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment

Hear hear!  I’m going to be a secondary education-social sciences teacher, and after spending fifty-two hours of in-class observation this semester, I wholeheartedly agree that NCLB is becoming a colossal failure, especially with economically disadvantaged/minority students and their schools.  If you haven’t heard of it, there is a national organization run by Dr. Philip Kovacs, educatorroundtable.org, that has a petition to dismantle NCLB.  As of today, it has 29,230 signatures. Spread the word…if enough of us work together, we can make a difference.  It’s our future too, after all.

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By AJP, February 11, 2007 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From a psychological perspective, these are very interesting and important arguments. The comments about adolescents becoming disenchanted with school and eventually dropping out are especially notable. Everyone is familiar with the boredom associated with a topic that has been made as bland as possible, yet the No Child Left Behind Act seems to have overlooked how short adolescent attention spans can really be. Limiting education to English and mathematics simply because the tests focus on those two subjects is a huge mistake that will definitely harm the overall livelihood and cognitive growth of children. Higher test scores do not equate to better education. If the educational programs are scripted so that the teachers and students are offered no freedom, there is a high probability that the amount of information being learned by students will drop, a phenomenon to be made worse by teachers who are unable to take interest in the material they are providing. Studies, as well as common sense, have shown that students will learn at a higher rate if they are interested in the material and enjoy the learning experience.

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By Crystal May, February 5, 2007 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

NCLB is another in the long list of complete failures of the Bush administration, and an insidious smoke screen engineered to deflect criticism from what is really wrong with the result of 12-year education: no sustainable lifestyle at its conclusion. Students in 3rd world countries can finish high school and make a living within their national economic standard above the level of gross hardship. What does 12 years of school accomplish for an American? They’re prepared to go college? Great, because they will foot their own bill for that, and boy won’t they pay. In fact, colleges have proliferated at a rate almost equivalent to government contractors, with community colleges trebling their admissions in the last decade.
Why aren’t the results that don’t leave kids behind in high school articulate with a job at a decent living standard? Until we change that, and get the education that is privately paid for available in public education, as far as I’m concerned, every child is left behind, though obviously some can bankroll a comeback.

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By Frank Krasicki, February 5, 2007 at 7:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Paul,

As usual you provide a stimulating basis for discussion.

NCLB is to education what Iraq is to foreign policy.  Both wars are rife with malicious and fraudulent rationalizations.  And our debates, such as yours was, are dominated by fanatical proponents of policies that are so self-evidently failures that any discussion of the matter quickly dissolves into absurdist fantasy.

The concept of accountability must be restored to its true definition.  That is whether or not the money allocated to schools is being appropriated and spent responsibly.

The concept of learning must be restored to its true meaning.  That is that individuals will be guided and encouraged to attain their highest level of achievement based on their own interests, strengths and weaknesses.

The concept of equality must be restored to its true meaning and that is that every individual has an equal right to be themselves and not be judged by arbitrary standards of grade level or test score deviancy.

There is no such genre as a “failing” school.  There are decrepit schools. There are schools inadequately funded. There are schools that are over-funded. There are lots of different kinds of schools.  There are inappropriate or inadequate vehicles for schools.  But no school will ever fail because successive random groups of children score inconveniently on a standardized test.

NCLB cannot be “fixed”.  NCLB is not plumbing, electrical, or a software bug.  NCLB is a cynical, corrosive education policy intended to eliminate the individuality of children and to artificially socially engineer a literal interpretation of “equality”.  It is deforming our children, parents, teachers, schools, and our society.

The monsters who continue to promote it must be impeached, fired, fined, incarcerated, or otherwise administratively disposed of.  The crimes being committed in the name of NCLB are equally heinous as most criminals commit when they violate the personhood of another.

Education in America must be re-thought, re-designed, and revolutionized to meet the challenges of the coming “singularity” of information overload, the new biology of man, and the new global realities.  NCLB must be eliminated entirely just as Hitler’s human experimentations were after WWII.  NCLB is not a final solution it is the latest education catastrophe.

Frank Krasicki
http://region19.blogspot.com

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By LKing, February 4, 2007 at 7:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for the article on NCLB.  I was a teacher in an inner city public school.  I left because I was not allowed to teach.  We were forced like robots to have the students memorize facts.  The students memorized the facts just long enough to pass the test but had no idea of how these facts fit together to create the bigger picture.  When teaching history the bigger picture is extremely important.  We had blind testing (I did not know what would be on my tests) and no teacher was allowed to be creative because we all had to stay on the same page—even if that page did not help the students learn.  This was discouraging for both teachers and students.  Now I am teaching at a private school—a school for kids with learning disabilities.  I am really teaching kids and they want to learn.  I see their progress everyday and see them growing as human beings.  A wholistic approach to teaching is the key.  They are excited about learning because I am not teaching to a test and I am able to use creative lessons - experiencial learning—and help them understand their place in this global society.  Even though I had to take a cut in pay—I would NEVER go back to the public school system and NCLB.  This is hurting students, not helping, because teaching is so much more than passing tests and collecting statistics.  It is helping a student realize their potential and to make it in the real world.  It is being able to analyze a situation and figure out what you need to do next.  I do not know of any situation in the real world that provides multiple choice questions as a solution to a problem.  Most of our kids do not know how to problem solve and we are to blame for that.    Our students deserve so much more.  My students were ignored and often fell through the cracks of the public school system.  They were looked upon as a liability because they often could not pass the standardized testing.  Some teachers did not want them in their classes because their raises depended on how many students passed the standardized testing.  But the students I have are creative, intellegent incredible young women and men.  I would be happy to place my future in their hands.  This is why we should allow vouchers.  Parents should be allowed to pick what kind of education they want their child to have.  Both rich and low-income people should have a choice of educational oppportunities for their child.  NCLB is a failure because it ignores differences and produces both teachers and students who cannot expand and grow.  I am glad I am out of the box and in the real world!

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By Jan, February 3, 2007 at 9:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Paul, Thank you for speaking the truth in your article on NCLB. I am a third grade teacher in a lower socio-economic school in Ca. NCLB has put so much emphasis on testing that it is difficult to have time to teach. I agree that it has taken the joy out of teaching. There is an old phrase “You can spend so much time weighing the pig that you don’t have time to feed it”. That has become true with education in the U.S. after N.C.L.B. we spend so much time assessing the child that we have little time to “feed” teach him/her. N.C.L.B. is a program that has been set up to fail. I have very little regard for this administration. They have spent billions on an “illegal war” when there are many different areas desperately needing more funding; education, health care, aids & cancer research just to mention a few.

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By Jon B, February 2, 2007 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s the beginning. If christian mullahs and despots have their way, all children will be reading the stone age fictional book.

It’s easier to control a ignorant group.

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By RJClawson, February 1, 2007 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m past 70. Years ago I was a teacher and then a curriculum director.  I had a degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education.  I was steeped in my subject and still am.

During the years I taught school, whenever voters were polled, they placed education at the top of important issues.  I’ve seen that happening every election-polling since.  Aside from the rush to catch the Russians in space, I’ve heard politicians pay lip service to EDUCATION consistently, without ever doing anything useful about it.

Lets face it, Washington maintains its power by having an under-educated population.  They don’t want a democracy, they want a plantation.

Bob Clawson

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By Skruff, February 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The whole question is moot anyway, because by the time Bush leaves office, no child will have a right behind either!

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By CoachF, February 1, 2007 at 10:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Remenber under Bush it’s no child of a millionaire left behind.”

No its not. As a HS teacher in Texas we say its No Child Gets Ahead

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By Michael Jost, January 31, 2007 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember that NCLB was based on the so-called “Houston Miracle” under Rod Paige.  The problem is that the miracle was result of fudged figures by desperate principals trying to keep their jobs.  This “miracle” was due to cheating.  It never really existed.  This truth was uncovered shortly after Bush pushed the NCLB legislation through.  No wonder the whole system is rotten now.

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By Rick, January 31, 2007 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People make claims like “Bush already doubled Education funds” and then question the call for more money - my first response is yes, more money.

The schools where I live are falling apart (mid ohio). Every county and school district is begging for more money and new schools are simply not being built. The people are getting tired of the emergency taxes and levies to keep them going.

So now people attempt to divert the problem by trying to pass on some guilt, “what?! MORE money?!”. Hell yes, more money. Our education system needs more money. If this government can find it logical to spend hundreds of billions on this war built on lies and without batting an eye, then shame on them for ignoring education like it does.

More tests? Give me a break. TEACH the children, they are our future and right now America is losing ground in so many areas. The longer we wait to fix this problem the longer it takes to fix.

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By Donna Glowacki, January 31, 2007 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Paul:

Your article is right on the money.  Speaking of money, as a retired educator and principal of a large urban junior high school, I can tell you that spending more money is not the only answer to the difficult problem of revitalizing primary and scondary education in the U.S.  But with our low level of investment compared to the top 16 industrialized nations, it’s not surprising that we are slipping behind in comparative measures of performance.  The U.S. ranks 14th in expenditures for K-12 public education.

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By Skruff, January 31, 2007 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Comment #50805 by 127001 on 1/31 at 12:46 pm asks

“When in the world did U.S. parents put the full responsibility for educating a child into the government or public school’s hands?”

Good question.  The answer may be “never”
From Tommy Gatto’s “Against school”

“.....It should be noted that forced schooling was not always accepted without resistance. In Barnstable, Mass., crowds of angry parents with pitchforks marched on town hall to protest compulsory schooling laws, saying they were already teaching their kids to read and write. It got ugly, troops were called in, and the children were marched to the schoolhouse under guard. It was “for their own good,” the government officials said.”

“Thus did political coercion backed by military force act as midwife at the birth of public schooling. The federal government kept out of the fray because it was understood that the Constitution, since it deliberately avoided mention of education, made schooling, if any, the business of the individual states.”

As usual, US citizens lost their rights, and did virtually nothing!

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, January 31, 2007 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Skruff, we don’t know a lot about individual learning potential and that is where the problem with standardized assessment tests arises. It’s wholly invalid to draw conclusions about one’s learning progress if you don’t know what his capacity—or interest, for that matter—for learning is.  It’s assumed that all kids can learn the same thing to the same extent and any kid can tell you that ain’t true.  It’s just those making ed. policy that don’t get it and, in the meantime, we’ll just keep abusing children because that’s what fed. and state governments, educational brainiacs (usually in universities) and too many parents expect, and in some cases, want us to do.  As a teacher, I’m not proud that I and my fellow professionals continue to knuckle under to power people we know are dead wrong and, in fact, we aid and abet them.  Remember new math? Whole language? and the list goes on.  The chances for things changing are about as good as our getting rid of racism, poverty and war in this country.  If you’re going to educate to fulfill dreams, the dreams have to be worthy of fulfillment.  If this country falls short, it’s there and not in curriculum and assessment.

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By 127001, January 31, 2007 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with Comment #50740 by Jeri Hurd, but want to add something.

When in the world did U.S. parents put the full responsibility for educating a child into the government or public school’s hands? Gee! Schools and teachers are treated more like babysitters than the professional educators they are, and that comes from the parents!

I was never a teacher; I will never be a teacher but I have ultimate respect for them for what they are able to do with so little. But the author of the referenced comment made a good point: many kids don’t even have decent verbal interaction, much less exposure to “education” before or after they start school. This is a disgrace of parents, not the school and not the government.

Give a child a library card and take them twice a week (as young as 3 or 4 is not too young). They will learn to read, they will learn to think, and they will learn to educate themselves. At 4 my child was hooked on science books about insects; at 6 she got hooked on Greek gods and goddesses; at 8 (to my dismay) she got hooked on Reader’s Digest (they really should put child ratings on those) and could recite weird diseases and outrageous words to anyone who would listen.

At 10 she came home from school and said, “mom the teacher said the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world, but the news said its not; what should I say?” (referring to a 60 minutes show or something we watched and discussed).

I told her, “Tell the teacher that pigs fly.”

I wasn’t popular with that teacher for the rest of the school year.

Oh well.

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By Rodney Matthews, January 31, 2007 at 10:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remenber under Bush it’s no child of a millionaire left behind.

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By Jeri Hurd, January 31, 2007 at 10:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In response to Dave, yes, schools and teachers need to be more accountable—and I say that as a 20 year veteran of the classroom—but to dismiss the plethora of problems outside their control facing students (and hence their teachers) as mere excuse making is to be incredibly limited in your vision of how the outside world affects student readiness to learn.  For example, there are homes where, not only are children not read to for half an hour each day, they aren’t even talked to for half an hour each day.  By the time they enter kindergarten, these students can be up to two years behind their peers in verbal skills.  If these children don’t read over the summer, they lose up to two months of skills that summer compared to the maintenance or even gain in skills of those who do read. This accumulates each summer they don’t read, resulting in a 2 year skill gap by the time the students reaches middle or high school.
There is no way a standard curriculum can address that gap, without requiring extra time in school from family, children and faculty (and paying for that time, of course).

I do agree with you that class size is not the answer.  I taught for a while in a small rural school where I sometimes had as few as 5 students per class, but those students didn’t do all that much better than students from my larger classes in another district, because my teaching wasn’t that much better.  What DID make a difference was when I taught a half time schedule (for full time pay, I might add).  Suddenly I had 2-3 hours each day to plan curriculum, find resources and construct great lessons.  Instead of spending my 50 minutes of planning time doing record keeping tasks, I could devote thought to my teaching.  What a concept.  And students placed off the charts on achievement tests as a result.

So with the caveat that when class sizes reach much over 20, it’s not teaching, it’s crowd control—teachers don’t need smaller class sizes as much as they need more TIME.

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By Jim, January 31, 2007 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is brutal. Is there any concern for truth? Bush has more than doubled DOE funds, but he is a screwball and the author says the solution to the failed government education system is more money. Even a democrat president could never have doubled DOE funding. How much money will be needed before the problem is solved?

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By TAO Walker, January 31, 2007 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The same corporate priorities that dominate virtually every other area of “public” policy in the Bush/Cheney regime are also central to its “No Child Left Behind” initiative, which is the Trojan Horse intended to break down popular resistance to the complete privatization of the national school system.  It is part of a pattern now so obvious it’s a wonder anyone at all, let alone professional experts, can look at any aspect of the imperial “new reality” and notice anything else about it.

Having got hold of the levers of “power” in what was plain-and-simple a coup d’etat, the ruling junta consolidated its control in another stolen “election” and continues to pursue relentlessly and ruthlessly the objectives of its criminal conspiracy.  Absolutely everything it touches, no matter how seemingly peripheral or tangential to the linchpin “war on terror” that is the central front in its drive to national dictatorship and world domination, is bent to serve the privateering “project.”

Intentionally botched government “programs,” including even armed assaults on and occupations of resource-rich but militarily weak countries, become so often the excuse to “outsource” such operations to “the private sector” it has all the earmarks of any other bait-and-switch scam.  Its sheer magnitude may still leave the credulous with doubts about the grave condition their condition is in, but “if it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck…...”

Americans have had the already tattered rug of their constitutional republic ripped right out from under them.  It wasn’t that difficult to do, either, once they were induced to leave their feet and take to their wheels.  They’ll play hell getting it back, too.  Anyway, NCLB becomes just another Bush no-brainer when nobody ain’t goin’ nowhere nohow.

HokaHey!

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By Dave Johnston, January 31, 2007 at 8:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Paul,

You and I are both concerned about public education, but we’re on opposite sides on most of your solutions.

1. In my state, the test is aligned to the content standards, so teaching to the standards is in essence, teaching to the test.  That’s not a bad thing if you have good standards.  The standards are supposed to determine what kids are supposed to learn at each grade level.  That’s what we’re supposed to be teaching.  If the test assesses those standards, then things are good.

2.  If a student doesn’t have basic math and reading skills then shouldn’t we be focusing on those?  When a school has 80+% of their students who can’t pass a test in math and reading for their grade level, then as far as I’m concerned, that’s what they should be learning.  Without those basic stills, other subjects such as history, science, etc., are just going to be more chances to fail for lack of basic skills.

3.  Accountability isn’t easy.  Most public schools aren’t interested in taking responsibility for student success.  They are quick to blame parents, poverty, lack of funds or any of a myriad of other culprits for the lack of student success.  Unfortunately, learning happens in the classroom.  If students aren’t learning, teachers need to change their teaching strategies to help those students learn. 

Not everyone should be a teacher.  Some people don’t have the skills required.  Unfortunately, with teacher contracts that make it impossible to fire bad teachers, many students are stuck in a classroom with a lousy teacher.  Good teachers go through year after year watching the crappy teacher in the classroom next door make more money simply because they’ve taught longer.

4.  If it was about funding, Washington DC would have the best schools in the country since they spend more than just about any other state.  Unfortunately, they don’t.  Their schools are among the worst. 

As in most government endeavors, public schools have little incentive to use money efficiently.  As a result, huge amounts of money get sucked up in the bureaucracy without any real impact in the classroom.  In my state, we’re spending billions more each year on K-12 public education despite declining enrollments.  The reality is that with the way contracts are written the bulk of every new dollar for education goes straight into salaries.  It doesn’t provide administrators with any real ability to implement needed reforms.

5.  The real problem is a system that makes excuses for failure instead of taking responsibility to adjusting to meet the needs of students.  Because public education is in essence a monopoly, it has little incentive to improve itself.  I agree that issues such as poverty, parental neglect and others do make it more difficult for students to learn.  What needs to happen then is for schools to find out what other schools are doing that is allowing them to be successful with these students.  Follow their example rather than just making excuses.


6.  Unfortunately, there is little research to suggest that simply cutting class sizes has any long term impact on student success.  If union contracts allowed for good teachers to get more money and bad teachers to be fired, we’d do more for improving teacher quality than simply giving every teacher, good and bad, more money.  Why should a lousy teacher make more than a good teacher simply because they’ve been a lousy teacher longer? 

I think we agree that major reforms are needed.  We just disagree on what they should be.  While it isn’t perfect, NCLB has us talking about the low achievement of poor and minority students.  Without NCLB, those students would just continue to fall through the cracks without any attention from educators, politicians or the media.  In my mind, that makes NCLB a good thing.

Dave

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By George S Semsel, January 31, 2007 at 7:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It should be obvious by now that despite pretty words to the contrary, education is not respected in the United States, that learning is mistrusted or disdained. Equally obvious is that the politicians on all levels are not seriously interested in doing anything about it. All one need do is spend an evening or two watching how education and the educated are treated in the media to see this. There is no evidence that educational institutions of any sort will ever be effectively funded, and certainly none that those who teach will be properly rewarded, not in this society. When one finds in a recent study, for example, that during a time of cut-backs in funding university adminstrators in a major institute are given a 16% salary increase across the board while those actually working in the classroom are given only 4%, one can only conclude that teaching is not an honorable or worthy profession, not here anyway.  The notion that teaching has other, none monetary and more spiritual, rewards is a myth used to keep pay ridiculously low, classrooms crowded, facilities substandard. I doubt effective change will come from either party, not here, not in my lifetime. Cummins is right, but the problems go far beyond the inner cities, and no one cares, not really.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, January 31, 2007 at 6:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First, I have more than thirty-five years teaching in public schools in the USA.  Secondly, if anyone watched Diane Sawyer’s program on Camden NJ last Friday, they may have gained some little insight into the problems public education faces in this country.  A principal of a school where the subject kindergarten boy was enrolling asked the boy what the three daily meals were called and the boy couldn’t answer because he never had three meals a day and hadn’t even had breakfast that very day. If there is one educational standard that should be universal and measured in this country, it has to be that no kid will go to school to learn in the morning without having had a good breakfast, especially if he/she hasn’t had supper the night before.  Until that is accomplished, we can’t really talk about other unrealistic, less important ones.  There is no excuse for a place like Camden, NJ and its children whose lives are at risk walking to the bus stop to exist in the richest country in the world (that spends a half-trillion dollars to conduct an illegal war on a trumped-up enemy.) This country can solve the rampant problems of hopelessness and ignorance.  We have to be as comitted to that end as we are to fighting terrorist cells abroad because, I believe, we misunderstand what/who the real enemy of our democracy and economy is.  It’s us.

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By Skruff, January 31, 2007 at 6:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although it aggravates folks lacking a graduate degree in education, standardized tests are a poor way to assess learning potential, or to determine how much knowledge is being absorbed.

BUT

Here in Maine where the University preaches endlessly against standardized in the classroom, professors are loath to direct criticism against these tests while speaking to State Education officials (at least publicly.)

NCLB is deeply flawed BECAUSE the people who know (educators) owe their salaries to the same folks who need their criticism.

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By 127001, January 31, 2007 at 5:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sigh… I so!!! agree with you. I was shocked at the standard of education when my child entered school, and was considered a “bad parent” because I expected more of her than the school did, one thing being to do her own homework!

But at the same time, looking at all of the news across the board including here at Truthdig, or even ‘just’ looking at the few various articles and reports of Truthdig only, you can see the pattern that emerged…

Education evolved into teaching a nation of followers, not leaders. We are 20-30 years behind other countries because our student’s don’t THINK. They can’t reason. They don’t understand what a concept is, or what philosophy may have to do with mathematics; what science has to do with history. what art has to do with government.

The students who are going to succeed not only of those tests, but into the leaders of the future will more than likely be the ones from the culturally diverse families who came to this country with one primary purpose ... to improve their children’s education, and they follow through with the expectations to their children and simply ignore the schools who expect so much less.

A good article IMHO.

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By bob, January 30, 2007 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The sad truth is this:  Stay in school, ace all the tests, get an advanced degree and STILL end up a hopeless little piss ant that can’t stop an unjust war.

Irony is the new pandemic.

Our kids are guilty of knowing they’re already screwed.

(They’re truly hoping we all just somehow go away.)

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