Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I Can't Support the Overhaul of NCLB (Obama's Blueprint)

NCLB (The Federal No Child Left Behind Act) has been a failed experiment on our children for over ten years. It is predicted that over 80% of schools across the country will not meet NCLB's unrealistic goal of 100% proficiency by 2014. The tests are flawed, and teaching to the test has narrowed the curriculum, stifled student creativity, and demoralized teachers who have been forced to teach a standardized script aligned to one test. It has not improved student learning, and it has not evened the playing field for underprivileged children.

This disastrous law is now being overhauled by the Obama administration, and a new "Blueprint" is being created. This blueprint will be like NCLB on steroids, with more testing (they call it "value added" because now the tests will measure actual growth of individual students, and will cover even more subject areas). Will this result in a dumbing down of the original standards set by NCLB in order for more schools to meet AYP (Annual Yearly Progress)? What is the value of that? Now teachers will be required to spend more time analyzing and collecting data, when that valuable time should be spent on teaching and lesson planning.

The bureaucrats are trying to fix the nonsense with even more nonsense, with no regard for the children. It is all about appearances, and framing data so it looks like there is improvement, so the politicians look good. And money that could be spent on hiring teachers or teacher's aides will be spent on pointless testing. This new "value added" (A Bill Gates idea) data will be tied to teacher performance. Jesse Rothstein, a top economist, has determined through his own research, that the "value added" model is highly flawed. It does not take into account all the other factors that influence student performance- little things like: high student mobility rate, high rates of absenteeism, lack of sleep, poor parenting, lack of nourishment, influence of other/former teachers. Why not JUST ASK THE TEACHER ABOUT STUDENT GROWTH? Teachers have been trained to conduct formative assessments of their students. It's what they do. Is all this new data collecting and testing really necessary?

Until the real problem of child poverty is addressed, all these mandates and experiments in data driven instruction, scripted curricula, standards aligned systems, and teacher accountability are a complete waste of time and money. The bureaucrats should spend some time in an urban Kindergarten classroom of 26 needy children. It is obvious that what is needed is more teachers in the room/or smaller class size, and a more meaningful curriculum that teaches the whole child. That curriculum should include hands on authentic learning experiences, recess, the arts, and developmentally appropriate practices. If budget cuts result in loss of extended day Kindergarten programs and preschool programs, firing teachers, and larger class size, then we are doomed. Cut the testing, cut administration, and hire more teachers. Let the teachers teach. I cannot support Obama's "blueprint" which is just a continuation of NCLB. Dear President Obama, please listen to education experts like Diane Ravitch, who speak for teachers. Parents, speak out against more testing!


Anonymous said...

Angie, I agree Obama needs to listen to expert educators. I am really worried about Corbett's proposed cuts to education. I can't support more testing. This should not have gone on for 10 years. There's money for Wall St. and wars but not for needy children? Priorities in this country are screwed up.

Mrs. Dottie said...

I am real worried about budget cuts too. In Allentown the child poverty rate in 2009 was 43.8 %,
Nationally, it's around 25%. So now, in 2011, probably half or maybe more, students in the ASD are living in poverty. If crucial programs are cut, there could be very serious problems. The policy makers just want to ignore poverty and focus on hiring those "super teachers." Well, from what I have seen, most teachers in the ASD are pretty damn SUPER to be able to put up with the testing nonsense, all the demonization from administrators, community, media, politicians, and still teach these kids who are SO needy and have so many problems. Most people could not do that job.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Now here's a superintendent not afraid to speak the truth ...
This is what's really going on in the corrupt ed reform movement.