This is a letter to the editor written by a friend and fellow educator here in the Lubbock area, and is reprinted here with permission. 

—– reprint of a letter to the Lubbock AJ editor follows —–

12 April 2005

Dear Editor,

The federal legislation of No Child Left Behind is a poor attempt at education reform that will result in corporations taking over your local school. The average person, due to misconceptions of the education process, doesn?t realize the scope of this unrealistic plan that will affect all of us for years to come.

Here are the facts:

1. The U.S. Department of Education insists on 97 % of all children to be tested on grade level. Where did they get the idea that only 3% of our population should be exempted? Talk to your child?s teacher and find out how many children in your local school are mentally retarded, physically disabled, or in any way have a learning disability. The next time you go to the grocery store, look around you. Do you believe that 97% of the adults in that building are possible of passing the same test on anything?

2. NCLB, from details available at the website, lays out a plan that if schools do not achieve a certain level of growth toward these unrealistic goals, corporations can then take over your local school. These privatized schools will have no local controls and be under the scrutiny of no one except, possibly, out-of-state shareholders. Gone will be any hands-on projects, creative lessons, music or art classes, and field trips. Worksheets will be day-in and day-out.

3. What will happen when a new family of a disabled student moves into a neighborhood? If that school already has their 3% cap met, does the child get bussed to another school? If the child forces the school over the cap, does the school get reorganized and made into a corporation school? Is this discriminatory to the family of the disabled child or just the other families in the neighborhood? Do we want this social engineering on the local scale due to federal law?

4. Opposition of NCLB is seen, by some, as whining by teachers who don?t want to change. It?s exactly the opposite. Those in education are just about the only ones who know about the problems with this law and are the least able to speak against it. The facets of our profession are misunderstood by mainstream America, and NCLB is like a stealth wrecking ball, poised to act. This is a concern from teachers for a system that, while imperfect, does not need to be demolished and replaced by a corporate bureaucracy. Teachers want students to be measured and feel that there is a standard that must be met. Let?s see realistic growth goals be used for each student, not some number pulled out of a hat. Every teacher I?ve talked to wants accountability, but in a fair and realistic way. I am a conservative who voted for President Bush. I also have children that have gone through LISD schools. While I agree with the President on many things, this plan, though, hasn?t been thought out and needs to be scrapped before our children and grandchildren waste important years of their lives.

5. Talk to your child?s teacher. Get the facts. Go to the Department of Education website, then to the website and get the reaction of educators instead of out-of-touch legislators (who, by the way, use private schools for their children). Let your thoughts be known to your federal representatives. NCLB is a bad law that will hurt everyone for years to come.

Doug Hogan

—– end of reprinted letter —–

Doug raises some critical issues here we all need to look at closely, form opinions about, and then communicate with our legislators about. It seems clear that many in educational public policy debates today are NOT interested in looking out for all students currently in our public schools, particularly those in the poorest school districts and those with special needs. Support for vouchers and charters and more heavy-handed high-stakes testing offer no panacea for the problems which face education. In the case of finance reform involving vouchers and private schools, those changes could take away already limited dollars from public schools that desperately need them.

I posted quite a few thoughts along these lines back in May 2004 following the visit of Dr Angela Valenzuela from UT to our College of Education. Where is the Horace Mann of the 21st Century, and why are we not hearing his/her voice more often in these debates over educational finance reform, vouchers, school accountability, etc? The Horace Mann League needs to speak up more loudly! 

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