Doug Noon posted about input the Aspen Institute is seeking relating to the renewal of NCLB. The following is what I submitted to them online this evening. I encourage you to also collect and share your thoughts.

We should repeal NCLB and stop the counter-productive, myopic focus on summative, high-stakes assessment encouraged by this legislation. We need to move in another direction: A direction which encourages teachers to innovate, to creatively connect with students and collaboratively work in project-based and problem-based environments. We need to look at the issue of school governance on a STATE level (not a national one) and figure out how our educational systems can be reformed to encourage innovation and creativity rather than stifling it. We need to acknowledge that the real enemy facing our educational system and our nation as a whole is POVERTY, not unfit teachers or failing schools. Clearly we have many schools in need of funding and change, we have a de-facto system of racial apartheid in many schools enforced by inequitable financing systems– but we must stop demonizing teachers for the poverty problems of our society as a whole.

We must support more charter schools, and reject the NCLB model which seeks to demonize teachers and public schools so the coffers can be opened to private ventures, voucher programs, and private schools. We need to have national policies which empower teachers rather than tying their hands behind their backs, much as our soldiers were treated during the Vietnam War. Time is one of the most precious resources (besides actual money) in short supply in our schools. We need FEWER curriculum standards rather than more. These need to be broad, rigorous and challenging– but must not be so ridiculously large in number that no one can fully understand and meet them all.

We need to acknowledge that a wide gap exists between the skills our business community says they want graduates to have, and the skills actually taught and reinforced in high-stakes testing environments. Policymakers falsely think that continued emphasis on high stakes testing will lead to the development of 21st century literacy skills, like those outlined by many groups including Enguage. That is a false perception. We are sacrificing the futures of our children on the altar of political campaigns, and this must STOP. We must speak out and demand policies which support school and classroom curricular autonomy, rather than mindless worksheet madness which has taken over so many of our schools.

We are smarter than this as a nation, we must change our course. We need to look to the educators for answers, instead of assuming that anyone on the street, because of their own extensive schooling background, has the qualifications to propose reforms for education. We need changes, but not the types encouraged and forced by NCLB.

Please contact me if I can be of assistance in this advocacy effort. I am committed to the goal of helping reform our educational system to help students learn and acquire the skills they need for lifelong success, not merely vocational opportunity. My blog is on, and you can find my contact info there as well.

Thanks for soliciting this input, I hope our collective voices will be heard.

Wesley Fryer
Lubbock, Texas

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  • Thanks for pointing this out! I agree that NCLB has to go. As always, you state the powerful argument very well. I hope that this Commission is committed to taking a REAL look at NCLB and really listening to educators who deal with the fallout every day. I took your advice and submitted my comments to their site. I posted my comments in my blog as well.

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