CA Teachers Oppose No Child Left Behind Changes

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.  In particular, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.  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.  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. 

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.  The pressure upon school districts to perform to specific universal standards that some school districts even prioritize teaching students how to take standardized tests. So is it really any 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 don’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 – 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 what’s best for their students.
  • The reauthorization proposal undermines teachers’ 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.

Take Action NOW!

Tell Congress No 

  4 comments for “CA Teachers Oppose No Child Left Behind Changes

  1. james
    September 10, 2007 at 9:30 am

    NCLB goes in the opposite direction of the research on effective learning environments. If the presumption is that society needs “information regurgitaters,” it does well. But critical thought and individual creativity are literally crushed. As is a love of learning. What’s left is careerism – which won’t be sufficient for democracy in the long run in my opinion. But Chris, Ted Kennedy co-sponsored NCLB, no? Isn’t it a bit of historical fiction to represent this as a republicans only proposal? When you realize the critical Democratic Party support the program has had, it’s no longer that surprising that the current Speaker is supports this renewal, is it? Did Pelosi vote for it the first time?

  2. Northcountystorm
    September 10, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Yo james—take off those anti-Democratic blinders for just a minute.

    Chris certainly wasn’t posting a Fleisman-type article just attacking the other party. He lays into George Miller and Nancy Pelosi. The reality is that No Child Left Behind was primarily a Bush Administration intiative, one of the few domestic initiatives that ever got anywhere. The standardized testing was something the Bush folks insisted on and Democrats went along with. That doesn’t make them blameless but one of the major problems of the Act was the one size fits all approach and that was a GOP initiative. The other major problem was the lack of the promised funding–the funding that was the major reason Democrats got on board.

    With increasing and long overdue funds going to education the public expects accountability–that may come as a shock to some who feel the taxpayer is no more then the town pump to be used whenever needed. Most teachers get this but correctly criticize NCLB’s insistence on standardized tests and punitive measures taken without regard for local contingencies. The California Democratic partysupports rewriting NCLB—not gutting it. Require accountability but use state testing models and multiple measures of student progress. Create an accountability model that looks at growth for improvement and works on class size reduction and teacher training.

  3. james
    September 10, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Standardized testing is not accountability. It is standardized testing. As an evaluation technique, it is like measuring weight with a beaker. The results it produces are junk, they tell us little about education in any real sense. Children are not widgets: that they learn differently ; that they come to the classroom with different knowledge; and that they need different interests met at different times in their learning process. Standardization is a mockery of accountability too. It’s not only accountability on the cheap, it’s a con sold to the people in lieu of real accountability. Real accountability would be aware of the real situations in the the widely varied classrooms of this state. Nobody would try to get to it with a one-size-fits-all test. As far as these two parties, Democratic and Republican, I hardly think I have blinders on. I see their votes clearly enough.

    BTW, what “increasing funding” are you talking about? Many of the school districts here in Orange County faced shortfalls again last year.

  4. Northcountystorm
    September 10, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Thank God you’re not on a school board james. next thing you’d be bagging on grades, sending us into the pass-no pass neverland . Tests are one measurement of student success and provides some accountability to ensure that taxpayer dollars are well spent and that students are learning. The problem with NCLB is that is was the only real measurement. And I’ve already acknowledged that testing alone isn’t a complete measurement of student success and wise use of dollars. And you need adequate funding and teacher training and for that matter, parental involvement.

    As for increased funding, look at the state budget james. Education spending went up last year. is it enough? No, but it was an improvement. Local districts get funded by ADA so if you have a declining enrollment you’ll lose some money. Districts with increasing ADA get more money. Get it?

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