Friday, June 10, 2005

Who Leaves Children Behind?

You know, I have never quite understood all the fuss about the No Child Left Behind act. Of course, I was spoiled... I had a great education. So, I already come at this from a privledged point of view.

But, as I read the news, I am finding out that hundreds of thousands of children around this country are NOT LEARNING TO READ. Yes... we are the strongest country in the world, yet 70% of inner-city fourth grade students can not pass a basic reading test. That is appalling! What are we accomplishing in this country if we aren't even teaching our children how to read???

For the last six months, I have been around people who were pushing that legislation because they believed in it with all their hearts. I have kind of followed along for the ride... because I didn't understand enough about the legislation. Then, a few days ago, I commented about the law to a fellow student. Said werf responded with disgust: "It's a crappy law."

Huh? Why is it a crappy law? This is what I understand is the purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act:

1) That schools be held accountable for student performance. That means, that schools should be encouraged to accomplish something.

2) Schools who wish to recieve federal funding should use researched and proven methods of teaching literacy.

3) Students should be tested regularly to make sure they are meeting basic literacy goals.

In this process, the federal government will provide funding to schools that reach basic literacy goals, and focus on helping schools that do not.

I'm just trying to figure out why it is so evil that we expect kids to learn how to read? Why is it a bad law that requires results out of our school system?

Oh... of course... the federal government should not be involved in education. Personally, if our education sector is perform as badly as it says it is, let's get the government involved. I'm a conservative, but if something ain't working, maybe sometimes the government should get involved.

That is all... for now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I currently teach High School math, and have learned the evil behind the law. The part that you mentioned is the part that is the great idea, and what actually happened is what turned evil.

First of all, teachers now have to be "highly qualified", which they deem having a major in the subject. Minors are no longer acceptable, even for health or cabinet making, which puts itty bitty schools where 1 teacher has 4 subjects up a creek. Logical, but not cool for many stranded people.

Next, they wanted to make sure that we rate how good a teacher is. How better than rate them than according to how well their students do? The problem occurs that if I teach in a poor community where the parents are illiterate, I am automatically "not a good teacher" in comparison to those in an affluent area where upper class parents make sure their children are headed to an Ivy League school. My students do worse, hence, I am rated as a worse teacher.

Also, they wanted to make sure that I am constantly improving my teaching techniques from year to year. So they check to see how my students are doing this year, and how my students are doing next year. Anyone notice that we are not comparing the same children? If I taught AP Calc one year, and then decided to help out struggling students the next year by teaching Algebra 1, I have failed becuase I did not improve the level that my students are at.

Who leaves the children behind? I will admit some responsibility: we have a great responsibility as teachers. But I have seen time and time again that the children left behind (especially in high school) are the ones that jumped ship on their own. I can do everything in my power, but if a student does not want to be there and does not want to succeed in school, I have very little control.

Sorry if this was a novel, but I wanted to set you straight. The ideas behind NCLB are great, but the actual execution is what makes everyone mad. I don't really care what government controls this or that, it is all the same to me. But I don't think blaming the hardworking and hardly paid teachers is really the best idea. You want good teachers: pay them more, and they will come.