Friday, June 26, 2009

President Obama - You Must Re-look at The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Excerpted from THE PRICE OF LOYALTY; George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill by Ron Suskind. "I wondered, from the first if the President didn't know the questions to ask," O'Neill recalled, "or did he know and just not want to know the answers? Or did his strategy somehow involve never showing what he thought? But you can ask questions, gather information, and not necessarily show your hand. It was strange." "No Child Left Behind, I like that, " O'Neill said, "but the idea that really moves us forward--a real action plan--is One Child at a Time." It was an idea he'd road-tested with educators for years--that we need "an individualized mandate, where children would be constantly assessed, one child at a time, in order to help create a little strategic plan for each student," a personalized learning strategy to fill gaps and develop latent potential. "It's a rethinking of what's possible, Mr. President. There's nothing more important than nurturing our human potential as a nation--our future depends on it." Bush shifted in the wing-back chair. "Right, that's the concept of disaggregation"--a term used by educational statisticians to break down test scores--"I have that covered." O'Neill wondered if he should point out that the President might be misusing that term but thought again. Richard Perle, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, commented publicly, "The first time I met Bush 43, I knew he was different. Two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much." It is clear to this critical thinker that George W. Bush did not know what he was doing when he proposed The No Child Left Behind Act. "That's the concept of disaggregation." Oh yeah, he had that covered alright!!!

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB)is a United States Act of Congress that was originally proposed by President George W. Bush immediately after taking office; given the excerpts from THE PRICE OF LOYALTY, red flags go up for this critical thinker and makes me believe that NCLB needs a thorough review and reconsideration. There has to be a better way to get our children educated while at the same time holding teachers and administrators accountable.

According to a state's definition of Adequate Yearly Progress(AYP) is based on expectations for growth in student achievement that is continuous and substantial, such that all students are proficient in reading and math no later than 2013-2014. Accountability systems must establish proficiency goals statewide, based on assessment data from the 2001-02 school year, that progressively increase to reflect 100 percent proficiency for all students by 2013-14. Another red flag. When do we get 100% of anything, let alone all of the various sub-groups that the government/states have segmented the population of students into. 100% is a nice target, but unrealistic; especially in light of sub-grouping(race,students with disabilites, limited english proficiency,etc.).

I heard a commentary on the radio the other day where the commentator said that "We are no longer schools; we are a cross between a test prep center and a baby sitting center." This critical thinker agrees. It is for these reasons that President Obama and his team must re-look at NCLB. In its present form, it is doing more harm than good to our students and the field of education. I will always say, give me a book(See Spot Run), a good teacher, and a student who is willing to learn and the education process will take place. If any of these three things are not in place, you will not be successful in the education process. I have seen students in private schools (who don't have certified teachers, mind you) achieve much more academically and they are not placed in an assessment crazed environment. The teachers (who are not certified mind you) carry out their curriculum (BEKA) or whatever and the children learn. What is it that they have that we in the public schools do not have? (Could it be parents who value education at home?..... that's another BLOG entry)

Take a look at any state NCLB scores and you determine for yourself if it is working. President Obama, please take another look at NCLB.

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