The people have spoken, and the power has turned from the Democrats to the Republicans. There is more than enough disgruntlement to go around, but if the Republicans want to solidify their voter base, they should consider the huge population of teachers, parents, and newly-graduated youth now qualified to vote.
We have one thing in common: We detest No Child Left Behind. If you, our new legislators out to retain your voter base, want to know why, here’s a bare outline:
- This law requires that all children pass all tests by 2012. This will never happen. Educators and politicians know this is true, because every year, teachers must teach a new group of children who come to them with various skills and aptitudes. It is impossible to reach 100%. This truth diminishes nobody, but puts students, teachers and schools at risk.
- Schools failing to show adequate progress are punished, but as years pass and scores rise, it becomes more and more difficult, eventually impossible, to show “adequate yearly progress.”
- Sanctions required for this “failure” include firing teachers and closing schools, which means busing “failing” students to schools farther away, lengthening the school day and ensuring worse performance for at-risk kids.
- High-stakes testing traumatizes kids.
- High-stakes testing almost certainly results in “teaching to the test,” which often limits a complete and broad education.
- A single assessment can never demonstrate a student’s learning, especially because research shows that humans recall a very small percentage of things they learn.
- Second-language and the poor will always score less than English speakers and those financially better off.
- No Child Left Behind effectively shrinks the curriculum to Math, English and Science, the tested subjects. Some schools even eliminate or greatly reduce the arts or other electives to accomodate the pressures of preparing for the tests.
- NCLB sometimes compels schools to hire private-sector contractors, a misuse of public funds.
- NCLB “Highly-Qualified” requirements work against teachers in small schools or other circumstances, often driving teachers from the profession. One example is a social studies teacher, in the last year of her service, forced to move to another school because she wasn’t HQ in geography, needed at the small school where she taught (another teacher had to be hired).
- NCLB puts test scores ahead of the emotional, physical and social growth and well-being of students.
Who dislikes (or detests, more truthfully) No Child Left Behind? Add together public-school teachers, college instructors, parents, and youth, and you have a powerful population that craves the banishment of this law so we can get back to educating the “whole child.”
At the very least, this is a powerful voting sector that you newly elected officials may want to serve.