The five-year old education reform law called ‘No Child Left Behind, a.k.a. NCLB, is for some stupid reason expiring this year and requires re-authorization to continue. Anybody who is vaguely familiar with this law has to know that its purpose was to institute a testing structure for school children at various grade levels to see if they were meeting the levels of knowledge expected at these intervals. The law was something that President George Bush had campaigned on in 2000 and after becoming President he persuaded Senator Ted Kennedy to write the law and have it pass in Congress. Federal education funding was increased and was tied to this new testing structure to see if the school age students had actually learned what they were supposed to learn according to established curricula of the individual states in America.
President Bush had referred to the passing children through the education process of grades K to12 (without making certain they had learned what they were supposed to learn) the “soft bigotry of lower expectations”. To his credit, the law passed and the program was implemented. All he, the President, wanted was a way to measure that children were actually learning things when it came to writing, reading and math and seeing proof of improvements by way of verifiable tests.
But from the outset, this program had a major opponent: The teachers in America! They lambasted and criticized the NCLB law as being restrictive and focused on testing only. The teachers unions, nationally and at state levels kept harping and harping about it and spent unknown amounts of time and money to undermine the law.
Now that the law is up for re-authorization in Congress and the Democrats being in charge, there are major efforts under way to change the law, soften the restrictive testing provisions within and generally refocus the intent of the law. The teacher’s unions have traditionally been liberal and have therefore politically supported Democrats during campaign seasons. The teachers are hoping now that they will succeed and basically destroy the fundamental elements of the current law. One of these efforts can be seen in California where some school districts are suing the State to allow them to test their students in Spanish. The state’s position is that ‘English-only’ tests are constitutional and calls testing in a foreign language a disservice to the students. (see San Diego Union Tribune article of October 3, 2007).
We here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ consider this outrageous and most in the teaching community should be taken to task over this. They call themselves ‘educators’ and one has to wonder why? If we bring it down to basics, here is how we see it: Teachers should teach and students should learn! But reality shows us that teachers do not really want to do that, NO, they want to be more. They want to be ‘educators,’ ‘entertainers,’ ‘self-esteem builders,’ ‘personality developers on an individual basis,’ ‘substitute parents’ and so on; they want to have the freedom to spend the time with their students as they see fit with few if any restrictions, and they do not want to just teach or be told to just teach, this explains their opposition to NCLB! They truly believe that it is more important to develop a child (or children) based on their own ideologies, philosophies, and preferred methods, anything but the basics and the necessities to prepare students for life.
The examples are way too numerous to list all so we will just mention one. Can anyone explain why a teacher in an elementary school in California had some first graders go out and collect aluminum cans from neighbors and friends to save the rain forests in Brazil? This was the teacher’s idea of focusing the kids on the environment! Hello, this is first grade! We do not know if this was part of the curriculum for first graders, it happened before the enactment of NCLB, but what did this exercise in ‘environmental awareness’ really accomplish? We think, if anything it took valuable time away from learning basic reading, writing and some math. It is just incredible and then we wonder why students are not meeting expectations in comparisons with other countries. If this goes on through high schools, is it any wonder that a vast number of college freshmen have to take remedial classes in English?
As Ruben Navarette Jr., a columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune explains in his article of September 30, “the teacher’s unions want desperately to maintain control over the educational process and help their members duck accountability; they are willing to put their own interests before those of children.” This is a strong but well placed and definitely deserved indictment of the entire teaching community and their devious manipulations are shameful!
It will be interesting to learn what the Democrats will come up with as NCLB has to be re-authorized. How much will the elected officials in Congress give in to the teachers unions and what will they be willing to change in the current law, called “No Child Left Behind” to appease their teacher constituents? If the law gets watered down and the restrictive provisions of mandatory testing are being removed or rendered ineffective, they should also have the courage to give their new law a new name and we recommend “Many Children Left Behind”, in other words, change the acronym from NCLB to MCLB!
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