We haven’t posted much on No Child Left Behind lately. Time to remedy that.
The reauthorization/reform are still pending, but don’t appear likely in this election year (see also here). I don’t know if that is good news or bad news. A straight re-authorization would be very bad news, but a better federal education policy (and less high stakes testing, less money for charters and vouchers, more money for underfunded mandates, more realistic accommodations and exclusions of special education students and English language learners for all testing) would be welcome, whatever the name.
I have to thank Madison teacher Gary L. Stout for prompting me on this post (and to add the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning to the AMPS Resources page — check it out). Gary, along with David Wasserman (see here and here, on AMPS) has been doing his best to get out a teacher’s perspective on the damage the law is doing to our schools and children. Here is an excerpt from his site on NCLB (check out the Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning in Kindergarten material too, it is well worth the time if you care about early education).
Developmentally Appropriate Practices
If a person is truly knowledgeable about what constitutes Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) for our school age children it is inconceivable that they support NCLB.
The concept of Developmentally Appropriate Practices are the cornerstone of what is good for our children in all schools. You will never, ever see the two phrases NCLB and DAP in the same sentence in any credible professional educational journal, never, ever. The more a person studies and works in teaching the more a person sees how developmentally inappropriate NCLB really is.
NCLB is the most destructive, vindictive piece of federal legislation ever passed. It is a deliberate assault on public education. It is a disease that is presently in every classroom, every day. It starts in kindergarten classrooms by undermining all aspects of Developmentally Appropriate Practices. It continues on through the grades and stops in High School when it lures, misleads, misinforms, and recruits our students into the all too real prospects of death or maiming. It is a tribute to the existing presidential administration
and their success at destruction and manipulation. NCLB is an all encompassing cancer that needs to be stopped.
The whole essay is here, including good quotes from our Board of Education members. One more excerpt on what we can do: Take Action!
What Can We Do?
It is easy to be critical of NCLB. The challenging part is addressing the question of what can we do to change things?
1. We need to unite and get politically active locally and nationally to eliminate NCLB or change it drastically. The problem is that political change is slow. We as a nation have been taking steps backward in the education of our children for five years now. We will continue going backwards on a daily basis as long as NCLB exists as it is today.
2. It is critical for Wisconsin to change the way our public schools are funded. The elimination of revenue caps and the use of property taxes as a major way to fund public schools has got to change.
3. Third, we need to educate many of our co-workers, parents, and the voting public as to the truth about how our schools are being deliberately set up for failure and how our schools are presently failing on a daily basis to meet even the basic needs of all our children
There are also at least three things we can do immediately as a progressive and accountable school district.
1. Stop the one dimensional focus on academic learning and teach to the whole child. We need to teach and give every child the opportunity to grow socially, emotionally, physically, and creatively as well as academically.
In March 2003 I addressed a Madison school board committee suggesting that our school districts emphasis on testing and academic learning at the expense of social, emotional, physical and creative learning was developmentally inappropriate. Since then our approach to teaching to the whole child as become even more one dimensional with the developmentally inappropriate mandates of NCLB.
2. Change the focus of the Madison summer school program. Instead of using behavioral issues as a deterrent to getting into the program, children with behavioral issues should be the first to be enrolled. The public needs to know that when a classroom has just one socially
inappropriate child, that child takes educational opportunities away from every child in the classroom. Social development is similar to reading and math development. They need to be taught every day, in every classroom, at every grade level.
3. We need to remember Rosa Parks and say no to NCLB. Our school district should be commended for having the courage to say no to the Reading First program. Lets have the courage to say no to NCLB. As a community lets find ways to fund our schools without having the George Orwell effect tied to federal dollars.
Here are some of my other favorite anti-NCLB resources:
The Educator Roundtable (with petition).
Thomas J. Mertz