Among the many campaign themes of Democrats running for Congress in 2006 was the failed policies of the Bush led Republicans regarding publicly funded education.Ã‚Â In particular, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.Ã‚Â I remember the sound bites like “We need to fully fund No Child Left Behind;” or “We need to stop teaching to the test;” and “We need to repeal No Child Left Behind.”
I have heard from teachers that there is just no time to teach their students anything other than specifically what is expected to be on the next standardized test.Ã‚Â Every year, at the beginning of the new school season, I get bombarded with requests to give a donation to help teachers buy supplies or books for their students.Ã‚Â
Then I learn that we aren’t teaching music, art, theater, social studies, home economics, or basic living skills anymore. We are not preparing the next generation for leadership or independent thought: we are simply programming robots to regurgitate facts we have poured into them so that they can do well on the tests (in English) in the spring.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The pressureÃ‚Â upon school districts to perform to specificÃ‚Â universal standardsÃ‚Â that some school districts even prioritize teachingÃ‚Â students how to take standardized tests.Ã‚Â So is it really anyÃ‚Â wonder why so many students cannot find Iraq, Iran, or even the United States of America on a world map?
So imagine my surprise when I learned that the NCLB reauthorization proposal by Representative George Miller and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does nothing to improve the current law and actually makes it worse.
- The Miller/Pelosi reauthorization bill continues to measure student and school success based on standardized test scores and fails to include multiple measures like attendance rates, graduation rates, a rigorous curriculum, and the number of students participating in honors or advanced placement courses.
- The Miller/Pelosi reauthorization bill creates four new levels of sanctions for schools that are struggling. It punishes lower-performing schools rather than giving students and teachers the assistance and proven tools they need to improve student learning.
The Miller/Pelosi NCLB reauthorization bill will make it harder to attract and retain quality teachers in California classrooms.
- It creates a new federal mandate to pay and evaluate teachers based on student test scores. Test scores donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fairly measure student achievement and cannot accurately evaluate and pay teachers.
- California needs 100,000 new teachers in the next 10 years. This proposal will make it harder to get the quality teachers we so desperately need in our classrooms.
- Paying teachers based on student test scores will result in more teaching to the test and will end up driving teachers away from lower-performing schools Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the very schools that need help the most.
- Research shows that merit pay schemes tied to student test scores have not improved student achievement and have been abandoned in many states where they were tried, because they were not working.
- The Miller/Pelosi reauthorization plan undermines local control and erodes employee rights. It imposes hundreds of federal government mandates on California schools rather than letting local teachers, parents and school districts decide whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best for their students.
- The reauthorization proposal undermines teachersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ rights to bargain issues such as pay, working conditions and other programs that directly impact local students and schools.
The California Teacher’s Association is urging Congress to reject the NCLB reauthorization proposal by Rep. Miller and Speaker Pelosi.
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