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No Child Left Behind Fails Us All

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Posted on Oct 21, 2008
AP photo / Seth Perlman

By Demitrious C. Sinor

The last question in the final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama had to do with what moderator Bob Schieffer suggested might be the most important issue of all: education. Both candidates expressed a deep need to reform education, and both conceded—as did their vice presidential candidates in their own debate—that the federally mandated program No Child Left Behind, embraced by many Democrats and Republicans, was underfunded. While this may be the consensus of legislators, I could not help but be left with feelings of distrust and discouragement. 

Rather than approach the challenge and reward of education with the promise of cooperation, the presidential contenders offered a recipe calling for charter schools and school vouchers and an incentive for parents to move their students out of “failing schools,” a decidedly competitive approach to education. This divisive strategy can only lead to a greater divide between the haves and the have-nots. This is not what Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall had in mind when he successfully argued in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case 54 years ago that “separate but equal” can never truly exist in education, or in society.

Amid perhaps the most important presidential election since 1932, the statements about education by our presidential and vice presidential candidates, even in the face of our current economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stuck with me more strongly than any other utterance in the debates. There is no secret why: I am a high school teacher. The night of the final debate, I was exhausted. My feet were aching—a consequence of standing on the job for the better part of 10 hours every day as a teacher of United States history. I wanted to relax, but my mind was racing; there is a lot to think about these days. 

We have seen a “bailout” of corporate and Wall Street swindlers, with the working class being forced to pick up the tab. The administration has continued to escalate defense spending while cutting taxes, never seeming to consider the dire social, international and economic consequences. With all the burdens being loaded upon Americans today, we deserve a break. Struggling homeowners deserve a break, not the devastation of foreclosure. Hardworking families deserve a break, not the shock of unemployment. And public educators deserve a break, not the damaging mandates of program improvement and the threats of state takeover that have fallen on my high school and countless others like it due to the draconian quotas of the No Child Left Behind Act. 

Sadly, NCLB doesn’t care about strong relationships in the classroom; NCLB cannot measure smiles, teamwork, camaraderie or the overcoming of adversity. It doesn’t allow for creative and authentic assessments and engaging activities in the classroom. And, tragically, it has demanded that we educators check our hearts and souls at the classroom door.

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I teach in Desert Hot Springs, a little-known California town of about 25,000 inhabitants. We are overshadowed by the neighboring desert community of Palm Springs, with its glamorous history, and the far wealthier towns to the southeast, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta, with their exclusive golf courses, country clubs and gated communities. Additionally, Desert Hot Springs High School is a Title I school, with approximately 84 percent of the student population using the program of free and reduced-cost lunches and an even higher percentage of students qualifying for the program. 

Desert Hot Springs has the highest poverty rate, the highest dropout rate, the highest crime rate and the lowest per capita income of any city in the Coachella Valley and therefore the Palm Springs Unified School District. Moreover, the city and its high school are met with the challenges of increasing documented and undocumented immigrant populations, mostly from Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America, and transient populations, both struggling to assimilate into the community and the school system. I did not know any of this when I decided to become a teacher nine years ago and No Child Left Behind did not exist. 

I was one of identical triplets born in August 1975 in Anchorage, Alaska; I later was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. I spent much of my youth unsure as to what career I might pursue. That is, until I walked into an educational foundations course at Northern Arizona University in the fall of 1999. I expected a mundane environment as I entered the auditorium filled with students, but then I heard Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” bellowing from the loudspeakers. I thought I had mistakenly entered a dance class as I glanced toward the auditorium’s stage, where I saw a middle-aged woman dancing wildly to the music. Though she lacked rhythm she had me and nearly a hundred other students awestruck by her enthusiasm. Holding a mirror high and repeating the song’s chorus of “Make that change!” her charisma lit up the room. Before I knew it, I and nearly all the other students were repeating, “Make that change!” The dancing woman’s message was that, as future teachers, we would change ourselves, change the lives of our students and by doing so change the world. She was Dr. Rhonda Beaman. On that day, I was first inspired to change the world as a teacher. I have continued to strive to do that ever since.   

My experience at Desert Hot Springs High School has been a series of ups and downs. I am fortunate to work among the most dedicated and collaborative professionals in the entire school district. I have always been treated fairly and with the utmost respect by everyone in the school and throughout the community. I have been honored as “Teacher of the Year” for the Palm Springs Unified School District (2006-07) and a Golden Apple Award recipient, and I have been listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers several times. Most rewarding of all, I have had the opportunity to touch the lives of thousands of teenagers and their family members throughout the community in my eight years as a teacher, and they have touched mine.


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By Seattle Teacher, October 27, 2008 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We have a severe problem that is only getting worse each year. We can spend 700B so we have No Banker Left Behind, but we can only talk of a voucher system in Education. Unfortunately, it was pretty clear to me that education is and will not be a major priority for either administration. Where will our next great wave come from if not Washington DC? I’m an optimist, so I think it’s out there somewhere…but it sure can be disheartening sometimes.

slightly off-topoic: wordplay on the last education question of the debate.

And one of the roots of the problem: Teacher Salaries

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By KDelphi, October 27, 2008 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

trt—I stand by what I said.

Your children do not “belong to you”. You are resonsible for their care, but if you fail, we as a society have a responsibility to step in for the good of us all.

There is no good, privitized system of schooling anywhere in the “free” world, that can compete on a global level.

I do not care how “good” home schooling is—it is supposed to be SCHOOL. Kids need to learn to get up, get ready, go away from home and function in society . If they dont , we al lose.

I never said that your father gave you anything-(why bring him up, then?)-I just think that bitching about the cost of school while touting a “free mkt’ economy” (dont all the colleges “compete”? Go to a cheaper one—or isnt there “enough competition”) is silly.
It will “cost what the market will bear”, no? If it is too expensive, the “mkt wil rein it in”. No worries!

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By Outraged, October 23, 2008 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment

Article quote: “Rather than approach the challenge and reward of education with the promise of cooperation, the presidential contenders offered a recipe calling for charter schools and school vouchers and an incentive for parents to move their students out of “failing schools,” a decidedly competitive approach to education. This divisive strategy can only lead to a greater divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Charter schools are bad, bad, bad.

Vouchers are bad, bad, bad.

Both of these approaches UNDERMINE public education and the leveling of the playing field.  UNWITTINGLY, they are “purposed” to “level” they playing field, but the FACT is they…do not.  Do not be mislead.  These things are arranged so that they can EASILY subvert the playing field.

Once in the hands of PRIVATE interests, education will become nothing more than what we are seeing in the workplace.  A “do or die” mentality.  However, this “do or die” isn’t relegated to the simply inept against the viable.  But more one of…. the moneymaker opposed to the humanitarian.

Is it that humans should be seen as “moneymakers” for the corporate will..?  What is “a good education”?  Is this one which subverts the human condition in subjection to the corporate will?  What is the VALUE of education?  Is it to become “good workers”?

It is BEST to consider this premise in the larger sense.  Private education, should be private.  And NOT, subsidized by PUBLIC DOLLARS.  Competitiveness in the academic sense, is a moot point, as this is already realized.  PRIVATE INTERESTS are in a realm outside of competitiveness.  They seek those who FURTHER THEIR INTERESTS, through indoctrination and studied curricula.

BUYER BEWARE.

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By Outraged, October 23, 2008 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment

Re: TAO Walker

Your comment: “Some of those here commenting on this Old Indian’s comments express an honestly-come-by sense of confusion about being free wild natural Human Beings.  It is not a matter of costumes and rituals and tools and furniture.  It is certainly not some archaic or outmoded or “romantic” Way of living.

LOL….touche’, my friend…touche’.  Did you hear the whoosh as your assertion whisked through the rhetoric….LOL.  I hear ya’..... but I’ve always heard ya’.  You are a kindred spirit, my friend..a kindred spirit. (see.. “Anne of Green Gables”...Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst) Good stuff.

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By TAO Walker, October 23, 2008 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

Some of those here commenting on this Old Indian’s comments express an honestly-come-by sense of confusion about being free wild natural Human Beings.  It is not a matter of costumes and rituals and tools and furniture.  It is certainly not some archaic or outmoded or “romantic” Way of living.

Notions domesticated people have about the “stone age,” for example, offer a good illustration.  The plain fact, of course, is that the stone age never ended.  “Modern” people still throw rocks at each other….from lead bullets to “depleted” uranium ones, they’re all just rocks dug-up, beaten, heated, refined, shaped, hurled at some “target.”

One thing about us primitive Savages not often shared by our tame Sisters and Brothers is that we aren’t so easily fooled by appearances and propaganda.  We’re as able as anyone with the necessary physical features and perceptual faculties to operate the electro-mechanical gadgetry so available everywhere.  We just don’t idolize it, or mistake it for something other than the incidental re-arrangement of the given elemental basics, which is all it is….or ever can be.

Institutional and ideological systems have no appeal to us except as the transient curiosities they always prove to be.  By now we’ve seen and delved into about every conceivable variation of these not very different (one from the other)artifactual schemes.

Not being sure which of this old Man’s semantic constructions Dr. Knowitall sees as “metaphor,” it isn’t clear how better to put things.  Maybe a “definition” of Tiyoshpaye would be responsive to his concerns.  Tiyoshpaye is the fundamental organic FORM of Humanity within the Living Arrangement of our Mother Earth.  That is, Tiyoshpayes are the sustainably reproductive human KIND.  “Individuals,” “nuclear (even “extended”)families,” and the “nation states” these are collected into are not naturally occurring forms of humanity, but rather artifacts of a process designed to fracture the organic form into unstable CONstituent “elements.”  Call it “civilization.”

Naturally, our organic form is in-keeping with our organic FUNCTION.  We are part of Her natural immune system, which in-turn is to Her what ours is to us.  That so much of Humanity is presently in such terrible shape, that is “individuated,” and thus severely handicapped organic function-wise, is reflected in the already critical and rapidly-declining-toward-dire condition of Earth’s Living Arrangement.  She’s got IIDS, and it’s no coincidence that the symptoms are so similar to those of AIDS for “individuals” afflicted with that.

None of the above is intended as mere “metaphor.”  It is as specific a diagnosis as one of “diabetes,” f’r instance, but much more contextually comprehensive….and one not at all responsive to merely symptom-masking “remedies.”

Here’s the thing.  The Medicine we all need here is a restoration of the functional integrity that is inherent in our natural organic form.  Nothing that can come from “civilization” will serve….quite the opposite, in fact.

Maybe that’s still too “general,” but if people have specific questions, us Primitives will do our best to respond as to-the-point as the limits of language permit.  Life Herownself will fill in the gaps.

HokaHey!

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By Fahrenheit 451, October 23, 2008 at 1:05 am Link to this comment

@ Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 22 at 12:05 pm;

I don’t think anybody’s talking about going back to the stone-ages or a pre-Colombian America.  I, at least, am advocating a radical change in basic values.  We’re far from a sustainable existence which is leading to a catastrophic, global, ecological collapse.  At least catastrophic for us humans.  I like Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis” and think the planet will survive us regardless.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 22, 2008 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

Fahrenheit 451 and purplewolf:

In the 18th century, the life expectancy was about 40 years.  Now it’s double that. 

I think there’s something to be said for being able to spend a little extra time sharing your life with your children and grandchildren. 

Life was tough, I guess, in the 1700’s. 

I do love the idea of living nomadic, wild and free and in small communities when there was no land ownership, hoping some foreigner didn’t come to take your stuff, your hunting ground or your garden. 

But living in a more modern society, with all its flaws and its perils, has about doubled the life expectancy in the last 300 years. 

In the case of my wife’s illness, they may well find out that Type I diabetes gets its start from environmental causes, but I doubt it.  I think she’s happier living the twenty years beyond the 18th century expectancy despite her disease and, probably because of advances in medicine, including the discovery of insulin and organ transplant.

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By cyrena, October 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

Spirtgirl (and all)...Great comments!! I particularly appreciate the part that I didn’t get to in my own comments…about the inequality based on socio-economic factors. It is BECAUSE of the fact that public educations are funded by local property taxes and other local resources, that this inequality exists, and for the most part, always has.

That said, there is no reason why we cannot have the same quality education that Spiritgirl received, and that many children CONTINUE to receive within the charter school set-up, assisted by these early intervention programs, that should just be part of the same set-up. Of course that’s easier said than done, because it DOES take input from the entire community, and parents and/or other family members specifically.

I’m not saying anything different than what Obama pointed to in the last debates. He talked about EARLY academic development, and the benefit of charter schools, and the fact that parents would have to step up to the plate, and that teachers should be held accountable, but at the same time, not have their hands tied by a bunch of BS bureaucratic stuff that engulfs the entire process. There is never any ‘one’ thing that creates a sucessful learning environment, and like everything else, has to be approached from a holistic view.

On a different note, I uderstand perfectly what Dr. Know is saying as well, about the different world that we live in now, that simply doesn’t allow for the completely wild life. I too would probably be dead without the intercession of modern medicine and the infrastructure, (poor as it may be in many places) that provides for it. I simply cannot tolerate the concept of ANY people dying from preventable and/or treatable diseases, and there’s no excuse for it in my mind. Yet, it continues to happen, and it’s another place where the inequality is so huge, with some people having greater and better access to health care than others.

For instance, the infant mortality rate in the rural south is as high or higher than it is in many so-called third world countries, and there is NO EXCUSE aside from the inbalance of services available.

Which is why I keep going on and on about BALANCE being the key to everything.

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By Spiritgirl, October 22, 2008 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

NCLB is yet another example of the gross neglect of our school system!  I am the product of good public education; by that I mean we had smaller classes, dedicated teachers that answered your questions and corrected you whether it was with pronunciation or a question that you didn’t understand, we had both music & art, along with gym(physical activity), every day!  We were required to read articles from the paper and cut them out and discuss their contents!  We were taught phonics, really rather helpful!  We were taught critical thinking and analysis! Yes, children were actually held back a grade if they did not comprehend the material! And yes, this was public school! 

Today our teachers are under assault, our schools are funded partially thru property taxes so in poorer neighborhoods they do not get enough money, there are far more children in the poorer class sizes, and far too few books per class!  You see “Brown vs. Board of Ed.” wasn’t just about getting African American children into the same schools as White children - it was really about the equal access to a quality education for all children. 

Poor White, and Minority children are all up against the same in-equality in education as long as schools are funded unequally!  I fear that as a society we have truly forgotten about the “good of the many” vs. the “good of the few”.  We tend to want to look at things from “Business Models”, this is not the way all things can and should be judged!  If anything our health-care system in this country is a perfect example of what is wrong with that “business model”, 48 million uninsured and growing!  The educating of future Americans is really up to all of us!  And we have been short-changing ourselves and our futures!

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By samosamo, October 22, 2008 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

By purplewolf, October 22 at 6:51 am

You are absolutely correct, living in the wild is the healthiest life but not just so coincidentally the way humans evolved on this planet. But with the advent of agriculture and the ability to group masses of people into small areas(cities)and thus have a far better control of them, to me it has been down hill from there. I also believe that the indigenous peoples of the continents were of a lot sounder mental and physical condition. Sure there were wars and strife but not to the degree that the modern agriculturalized human is today.
So, yeah, it would be better to live in the wild and naturally, so to speak. But here is the modern day issue of top importance, the population of humans is far to large to support that kind of life. For any species to exist it has to take from the environment and most likely destroy some of the habitat in the process, but humans have carried this to higher levels than the planet can support with the huge number of people and the technology to ‘benefit’ from the environment. And besides, since the agricultural era began and humans started sorting out classes of the people, this has been elevated to the position now that I doubt very much that many governments would allow life in the wild because of the ‘infringement’ on the ‘rights’ of property owners. This is part of what I got from
**By TAO Walker, October 21 at 10:49 am**‘s comment I congradulated him for earlier.

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By Fahrenheit 451, October 22, 2008 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD;

I would tend to second purplewolf, October 22 at 6:51 am, on this.  I think this was Tao Walkers point.

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By bilejones, October 22, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There’s a desperate need for a separation of school and state. The government run drug supermarkets that pass as schools have two functions that they perform extremely well.
One is to serve as one more vehicle for the looting of the productive in society, the second is to turn out yet another generation of ignorant dullards content to believe the mythology of the elites.

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By purplewolf, October 22, 2008 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

Dr.Knowitall.PhD,PhD,: Your wife might survive much better in the wild than you think. Many of the medical problems people have today are caused by the environment we have created. Whereas living wild, as I have on the red road/powwow trail, do much better in a more natural way of life. Many times the old ways are best for all living creatures.

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By purplewolf, October 22, 2008 at 7:39 am Link to this comment

Before NCLB here we had the SAT’S, and just about the only thing the children were taught was geared up to these test and nothing else. Living in Flint, we have about a 50% drop out rate, the schools have lowered the GPA to play sports to 2.0 and claim that Flint students are ready for employers on day one. This is propaganda. We have a few, very few who fit that order, but the majority of those who do graduate, too many are illiterate, unable to do simple math, and for those who do get into college, many have to take remedial classes for college students. I have looked at the materials for these classes and it looks to be about a 2nd-3rd grade level of reading, math etc. These students should never have been allowed to graduate with this low level of expectation. It is not fair for anyone concerned.

It is not always the schools or teachers fault. Students have to put some effort into their own education also and this never seems to come up when a students failings are talked about. Yes, not all students start out on a level playing field and everyone learns differently.

I look at what we have turned out for educated(?) students in my area and I worry of what will become of America, especially if we allow the system to throw out science and other classes and lean toward questionable ideas like I.D. instead. We need to keep up with other countries who actually educate their people and not take us back to the dark ages if superstition, ignorance and religious fantasy over actual fact and call that education. I, for one do not believe we are still a leader in much of the technologies of today, with the continued dumbing down of our students how can we be?

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 22, 2008 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

Cyrena:

I’m all for lofty thinking.  Like TAO Walker, I like to think a wilder world would be better.  Except when you see what happens to the world’s wild people at the hands of the tame, it may not feel too good.
TAO Walker’s people are a case in point.

I might be content to condemn tame living were I, as a wild person, a victim of it.  But I don’t think so and I’m not totally convinced that TAO Walker is completely satisfied either.  This is still not to say I disagree with him.  I agree.

On a social, world level, it seems not to work very well if some choose to be tame, leaving the wild to fend for themselves in many cases.  I think that’s where we’re at now, in the US and in the world.

One more, more personal thing: if my wife and I lived wild, she’d most certainly be dead now because of health problems held at bay by modern medicine, and I’m extremely grateful for that.  There’s something to be said for living, even with a little quality and tame.

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By Fahrenheit 451, October 22, 2008 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

@ TAO Walker, October 21 at 10:49 am;

If I’ve understood you correctly: We’ve industrialized education to the point of it being a product in and of itself.  Having nothing whatsoever to do with actual education; real education has disappeared, a relic of the past and is now a perversion of the machine that is/has become our society/us.  Perhaps we are so wrapped in our ethnocentric selves we no longer remember what it is to think for ourselves; to be separate from the machine.  Actually, we have become the machine and do not know ourselves; truly!  We’ve forgotten our true nature if in fact we ever really knew it.  We’ve lost community and we don’t even know it!

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By hippy pam, October 22, 2008 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

It was all just a “bullsh*t” republican item that looked good[on paper]to “ole bullsh*t” but failed miserably in practice…Several reasons….unqualified instructors-inadequate instruction areas-uninterested students-This makes it extremely difficult for those who want to learn and those that have the intelligence to take advantage of class[not social class] and cirriculum.

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By cyrena, October 21, 2008 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment

Dr, Knowitall..

All due respect to TAO Walker, (and I have plenty) I too had difficulty with many of his metaphors at the beginning, so I had to ask like you have done. I’m sure he’ll respond.

I just wanted to add something that I’ve noticed over the years since NCLB was first introduced, because it was introduced in the Texas system before GW forced it on the rest of the country. (Remember, he was a pretend Gov there first). I didn’t have children of my own in that system, (or any for that matter) but the complaints from the educators, the parents, the students, and the citizens-at-large, were overwhelming. Teachers (some great, others horrible – I knew many) were being forced to ‘teach to the test,’ and that’s all the kids were doing in school. Taking these stupid tests. So, they weren’t learning anything. ANYTHING! And while it’s true that the program has been underfunded, it’s been a totally disastrous concept from the beginning, and so no amount of funding would have made a difference.

Now at the same time, there were Charter Schools. (I don’t know if there were any in Texas, but all three of my sister’s children attended Charter schools in the Los Angeles area, beginning way back…at least 15 years ago for her kids, if not longer. And, we have them here in my community in Santa Barbara as well. I’ve never been curious enough to ask how the NCLB might affect them, maybe because it’s never come up. My guess is that the only reason for any school to be obligated to the NCLB, is if they want federal money. Apparently, (and someone will surely correct me if I’m wrong here) the Charter schools operate with State and other local resources, (not to mention the parents and the rest of the tax payers) and so it might be that they don’t get the Federal bucks.

Be that as it may, in my own observations over the years, (with my sister’s children and now with my grandson) these are excellent PUBLIC schools, and they’ve provided an excellent education. (seemingly better than what I received at private schools). Parents are typically required to volunteer a couple or so hours a week in the child’s classes, and the homework requires some measure of parent/other/older sibling participation. (my sister used to make the older ones review the younger ones’ homework – even though the younger one sometimes should have been reviewing the older ones’.) I can’t help but believe that all of these things make all the difference in the success of any student. And, not all students have this, and we know it.

Now, I do homework with the 6-year old BarackO kid, and his charter school is situated so that both 2nd and 3rd graders are taught in the same class. (the homework has different instructions for each level). I’ve found myself exceedingly impressed with the success of these schools, (and certainly with my sister’s children, though I was amazed at the heavy work load for them.) But I said all of that to say that I wonder if this isn’t what TAO may be thinking of in these terms. Not all of their in-class work is inside, (though most of it is) and they interconnect with the subject matter far more than I remember, including frequent field trips.

BUT, these kids start at an early age, even before kindergarten, and I think that makes all the difference as well. I’m not aware of any ‘standardized’ testing before the 8th or 9th grades, and that has only been in preparation for further education. There are also the academic organizations/associations like the one that my nephews and niece have been in; Young Black Scholars, and those are helpful as well…as they aren’t associated with a particular school, but include students from several area schools. In other words, it takes ALL of this, but it does work. Meantime, the NCLB kids are being victimized, because they aren’t learning anything other than how to take standardized exams.

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By BlueEagle, October 21, 2008 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Centralized planning, especially when it pertains to education, will only provide the State with more control. In this case they, through the Dept of Education, use programs like NCLB to indoctrinate the next generation. It’s time to say “No Thanks!” and send back the State’s subsidies.

BTW, private schools are no better public schools. I’ve been to both and each has just become a cog in the system. There are a few progressive private schools out there and there are also some great public school teachers that buck the system and are able to actually educate, but those are the exceptions to the rule.

Anyone really interested in this topic should read Charlotte Iserbyt’s “the deliberate dumbing down of america”. It’s free to download. http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/pages/order.htm

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By antispin, October 21, 2008 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment

The worst/weirdest thing is that these tests are proprietary and thus largely secret.  I have had a chance to evaluate some of these secret tests and I can tell you that they are a shambles and sham that ought to get the full light of exposure so we can all see what enronerizing has done for education.

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By Working Class Number, October 21, 2008 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment

My cousins are teachers in Cleveland. They get about 5-10 books per class of 30 kids, a box of chalk and (if lucky) and eraser. Anything else in the classroom, they have to buy themselves.

The US eduction system is gross. I remember being a child and traveling outside the US, and NOT knowing ANYTHING compared to my peers in other countries.

SO sad. How is it that there are so many amazing and intelligent people in this country - and we can’t seem to get the basic skills that are needed in - err - elementary school down? I know the answer. And it sucks. It just another fall to “rag doll” our way out of as Americans…

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 21, 2008 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

Basically what NCLB does is confirm the role of politics in public education.  The two are like oil and water.

The problem with our schools is simply that too much of education is irrelevant to too many kids and one-size-fits-all is a stupid educational foundation.

Our society is fraught with problems, too many of which affect our public schools and you can’t address one without addressing the other at the same time.

What has happened is that kids, teachers and schools have become the scapegoats and whipping boys for problems our local, state and federal governments have no idea how to solve.  They just keep whipping and whipping.  Standardized State achievement tests?  Child abuse.

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By magicwanz, October 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

The heart of our democracy is public education. It has been under attack on many levels for many, many years and has slowly accumulated so many defeats and diminishments, big and small, that even when it works, it doesn’t work. The most it can teach young people these days is bowing to authority, which doesn’t bode well for democracy. The sad state of American politics rests squarely on our education system. The fact that we are really number 1 at nothing of good consequence is directly related to our failing schools. I tried to be a teacher. I don’t have the heart for it. God bless those who do, and good luck.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 21, 2008 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

TAO Walker, could you write for me how the society that you think this one should be might look?  I think I understand what you’re getting at but you write in ambiguities.  I have acknowledged that my idealism doesn’t work in this world. My guess is that you might be better at actualizing your ideas. 

What would your country look like?  Your cities?  Your families and homes?  Your economy and health care?  Your infrastructure, if you had one?  Your educational system?  I’m very curious. 

Understand, this is not an empty request.  You command a great deal of respect among all us commenters.  A new world has to start with a vision and then, a plan.  How do we get from where we are to where you think we ought to be?

Please don’t write in ambiguities and metaphors.  I’m not good at understanding those.

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By Julie, October 21, 2008 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

NCLB, where do I begin?  I could go on for days.  When this was passed, we, public educators, advised the American public of the pernicious affects that were likely to manifest.  They are being seen and a few I did not anticipate.  There is no concern whatsoever for the achievement of the individual student, because all data is crunched in to an API (in California) and an AYP (for the feds).  The manipulations that go into the data are all that concern the administrators.  Additionally, with this misguided, but beautiful, notion that all students are of equal ability and circumstance and require only a highly qualified teacher to simply pour the nectar of learning into their minds, we completely overlook that truth that all learners do not bring equal aptitudes, abilities, interest levels, motivation, preparedness and outside support to the table of learning.  That our students differ widely does not ever enter the converation, thus we have students who have 3rd grade level math skills in Algebra 1 (failing and failing) because ALL 9th graders are entitled to take Algebra 1.  We have turned the argument around.  NOw students have a civil right to be taught grade level standards and should not be deprived of that right.  All classes and programs that meet the needs of different (sometimes slower) learners are being systematically removed.  In the march toward 4-year university for all students (has anyone counted to determine whether we have that many seats?) must take college prep. classes at their grade level.  The casualties are beginning to pile up.  I predict during the next several years, as all schools sink to the level of “failing,” we will have a higher drop-out rate than we have seen in years.  I could go on, I only grazed the surface, there is so much to say on the subject of NCLB and little to none of it is positive.  IN sum, we must return to community-based schools.  For decades American schools were administered by their communities where the people who were closest to the students made the vital decisions.  It is OK to have some differences in coursework across the population, standardization is not necessarily the key to better education and a more productive citizenry.

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By marcus medler, October 21, 2008 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is ironic that the loudest voices for decentralization of public services,local control and a diminished role in our lives by the central federal authorities are the chief boosters for this scam. I hope it is now clear to most Americans that the Republicans and their cohorts have been bilking the taxpayers for private gain since Reagan.

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By samosamo, October 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

By TAO Walker, October 21 at 10:49 am

Excellent grasp and description of the concept. I usually put it at this, with 6.8 billion people on this planet I say, again, that this many people cannot possibly be supported to the betterment of the humans and the planet and the ability for it to provide fair share of needful things like clean air, water, ground and food which the current political, economic, environmental, religious, educational and social systems are not capable of doing due to this huge number of people on the planet. Which are all controlled by a small cabal of selfish and greedy people just ate up with all the 7 deadly sins. And because of the controls on especially the msm and the need for children to have the wrong kinds of babysitters because if there are even 2 parents, they cannot spend the required amount of time to make sure a kid WANTS to learn and the msm, controlled by some of the most evil people you or I can think of, well just turn on the ole tv and let em watch disney. Disney, hmmm, just might be the orwellian way of education in this modern ‘1984’ world.

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By the-real-truth, October 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

Kdephi,
“Home schooling” is child abuse. You cant learn ow to function in society that way.””

You got on the crack pipe again. Where I live, there is a large homeschooling cooperative working together to educate their children. I volunteer to teach a programming class once a week to the group for 2 hours. Some of the parents are English professors, Biologists, Engineers, Woodworkers, Metal Workers even housewives that teach cooking etc.

Everyone has something to offer and while the majority of general school work is performed in the house, they get together on a regular basis for group learning, PE and Field trips. They have their own swim team, girl / boy scouts, 4-H, equestrian clubs- they are very active together.

This is not unique. Many people have given up on the failing government run indoctrination system and these cooperatives are all over the place.

So needless to say, you are misinformed – again.

And as I said. My stepdad never gave me a dime. Mom married him after I was long gone but the government still saw fit to punish me for his success. In other words, they charged me more for the same thing they gave others much cheaper. Its wrong and its flawed. It should not be free because there are some incurred costs but it should be fair.

We have taken away the public ability to vote with thier wallets and are keeping crappy schools open on your dime. How sad it is.

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By Chris Kerins, October 21, 2008 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree that NCLB can cause problems and may not be the total solution.

I ask the author though, what are the solutions you see as effective? How do we make the change we need? Complaining that someone else’s ideas didn’t work is not enough.

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By TAO Walker, October 21, 2008 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

“Education,” like “money,” is one of those things domesticated people are obsessed with.  Yet few if any look at either except through the lenses of the institutional programming they’ve received over the course of their half-lives as civilized “individuals.”  The essential nature of anything is exhibited not in its PR, but in its actual effects on the “environment” into which it is introduced.

All living Beings who reproduce go about in some way or another introducing their young into the Living Arrangement.  Everybody here in the Earth, except for captive Humans, do this without a whole lot of fuss and bother over whether the effort is worth it, or making the whole process into some kind of artificially abstract CONcept that then must be subject to “debate” and (inevitably) manipulation by self-selected “experts.”

The way the civilzed peoples are going about this natural and inescapable organic function has turned it into just one more “amplifier” in a tightly closed system suffering more-and-more these days from heterodyning feed-back loops (more colloquially known as “vicious cycles”)....all of which are presently combining to literally shake the entire contraption to-pieces.  It’s like the epidemic of stop-sign running.  The more people see it the more they do it the more of it there is to see the more of it is done…........

Tinkering around with the “school system” is pretty much an industry, here in these latter days, providing income and prestige to a horde of papered professional experts as unconcerned with the welfare of Living Children as “mortgage lenders” have proven to be about that of householders….and politicians of “voters.”  The sorry state of “education” is but one more symptom of the debilitating and degenerative nature of the condition domesticated peoples everywhere are (lately not so) slowly smothering-in.

Better “....open-up a window….,” Sisters and Brothers, and let a breath of free wild natural fresh-air in….for the sake of your Children, if nothing else.  This old Indian recommends it.

HokaHey!

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By KDelphi, October 21, 2008 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

As a one-time “Habilitation Specialist” (my civil service title for an adult “special eduation ” taecher), I agree with the author completely.

NCLB has caused further division, racisl and class segregation, and allowed the for-profit educational system to “prosper”. (Financially, not morally)“Charters” here stole millions of dollars from NCLB, before leaving and never opening the schools. This waas under Taft (who also stole from our Workers Comp. fund—but he “apologised”—great)

Further, they force US (you and I) to FUND religious-based scools, which is unconstitutuonal. This leads to people like Bible Schols teachers, in Ky, and elsewhere, teaching kids “both sides of the evolution battle”—right…

If we want to compete in the world (and I am not at al sure that we shoudl be “all out” for that), or just maintain some dignity, we need to have PUBLIC, taxpayer funded, de-segregated schools. Every civilized country does.

“Home schooling” is child abuse. You cant learn ow to function in society that way.

TRT—Cry me a river. Your father makes too much money. Did you even read the article? Why dont you care? I propose that all state universities (taxpayer funded as they are) be free to anyone who can “pass”. But, you would call that socialism. You want a “free market” with studen loans and “competition ” ? Then compete!

As for children born poor, I will save my tears for them.

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By davidperi, October 21, 2008 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

One national leader of a South or Central American country asked Finnish president Tarja Halonen why Finland was so exceptional in the field of education.  Pres Tarja Halonen (a 2nd term woman pres) said, “It is education…education…education!”

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By samosamo, October 21, 2008 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Thing is with education is that an individual must want to learn. So, just how can an educational system work when competition with all the preprogramed high tech things on the market that actually don’t educate but distracts, and with our national ‘marketing’ system that strives to make people believe they are making intelligent decisions by buying and using worthless uninspiring equipment, how can any individual know what is best for themselves to learn?
Most probably a big reason more and more people slip through a facade of a high school education into nothing but later attempt to go back and get a real education using a weak high school foundation. Kudos for those that succeed and hope for those will have to struggle.

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By mud, October 21, 2008 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

This entire no Child left behind thing is really hard to swallow from an administration bent on impoverishing future generations.

No banker left behind or no crooked self-serving mega-corporation left behind is more easily demonstrable.

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By Hulk2008, October 21, 2008 at 8:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Kudos to this teacher who has not only survived the rigors of public school but appears to be thriving.  But, like thousands of other committed sincere teachers, this one will be lumped in with all the rest as “having failed the kids”. 
    Never mind the facts that most parents are totally uninvolved in their kids’ education.  Never mind that the kids (even the poor ones) have been given every toy and gadget known to mankind.  Disregard that kids are more interested in music and cell phones than studies.  Forget that their parents are willing to allow CEOs and pro sports figures to “earn” millions while educators stay just above the poverty level themselves.  The common cry is to blame all the teachers because the kids are not learning.  Say it isn’t so, Joe. 
  Here is the ultimate fact:  there is literally NO way to measure the effectiveness of a teacher; there is no empirical proof available.  Tests can evaluate whether a child learns or not, however.
  By the way, the-real-truth, your step-dad’s income is considered in your elegibility for aid - and so is your own and your mother’s and your father’s and the net worth of the family you came from.  If you want to eliminate your debts, try working for a living rather than blaming others and the government.

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By the-real-truth, October 21, 2008 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

The entire education system is flawed.

I have a mountain of school debt due to government involvement. Every time they tried to help it had the opposite effect. Uncle Sam gives additional money for school and the schools raise tuition because they know you have it.

My step dad has his own business and never gave me a dime but – HE makes too much money so that was enough to disqualify me for any financial aid. I am the one left with the bill.

If the government either needs to regulate the tuition and make financial aid fair or get the hell out of the business. I am for the later as I do believe in fair and open competition.

Don’t even get me started on the government indoctrination of “public” school students where freedom of thought is not permitted. Learn to recite the government position or else…

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By purplewolf, October 21, 2008 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

where’s my comment?

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By purplewolf, October 21, 2008 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

I bet G.W., Sarah and John could not even pass the tests given in the NCLB programs.

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By purplewolf, October 21, 2008 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

I bet G.W., Sarah and John could not even pass the tests given in the N*CLB programs.

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By EDDIE MILES, October 21, 2008 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

YOU HAVE IT BACKWARDS! In order to compete, YOU HAVE TO LEARN! Now, we can have some fun doing it, its up to YOU KIDS!!!!

YOU SAID: At the local level, we can do something even more important. Educators, administrators and parents can breathe life back into education. 

DO IT NOW! WHY WAITE! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? “reality of education” - WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

YOU SAID: 100 percent of all students must be proficient by 2014. The key word is PROFICIANT, what, all must be above a c average.

THE PROBLEM IS NOT TESTING, LADIES & GENTLEMAN. ITS OUR SOCIETY. TV & VIDEO ARE RAISING OUR CHILDREN. PARENTS ARE ABSENT, out having FUN! Or working three jobs. Buying things they don’t need. I could go on.

DORTHY HAD THE CHOICE TO RETURN TO KANSAS AT ANYTIME BUT DIDN’T REALIZE IT. LUCKLEY SHE MADE IT BACK. OTHERS WON’T, THEY WILL REMAIN SLAVES OR END UP IN PRISON. HOW SAD. With respect-Eddie Miles

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