We, the undersigned, urge you to make revamping No Child Left Behind your top priority in education reform this year. It’s two years overdue for reauthorization, and the time to act is now.
The one-size-fits-all approach to the law doesn’t reflect or support the incredibly varied needs and strengths of the schools across our nation.Instead, in many towns and cities, NCLB has fostered an environment where teachers are forced to drill only basic skills that can be measured by a multiple-choice exam instead of helping children acquire a true depth of knowledge. As a result, 44 percent of districts nationwide have made significant cuts in untested subjects, including history, science, and the arts for the sole purpose of making more time for reading and math. Our children—and the future of our country—deserve better. As you begin your work, we urge you to ensure the new law:
|1.||Receives FULL funding. Since 2002, you’ve put $85 billion less into education than the law called for. And while the infusion from the stimulus package was much needed, it’s only a start.|
|2.||Sets realistic standards. The notion that nearly 100 percent of students—including those with learning disabilities and those new to this country—will achieve a certain level of proficiency by 2014 is ludicrous. Children are not robots. They each learn differently and at different rates.|
|3.||Provides for well-rounded student assessment. We don’t expect standardized testing to go away, nor should it. But we do expect you to help states design better tests—ones that can demonstrate that children can actually work out a problem, make connections and describe their knowledge.|
|4.||Measures individual progress. The current system looks no deeper than groups of students. While that’s beneficial to a point—schools are no longer allowed to hide behind broad averages—adopting growth models would allow teachers and schools to know how much each student actually gains from year to year.|
|5.||Gives schools and teachers the support they need. Of course, there need to be consequences for schools that fail their kids. But those that are struggling need the flexibility to choose programs that actually fit their needs—instead of being forced to use cookie-cutter curriculums. And teachers need more money for training so they can become the best they can be.|
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Becka has a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and Development, and has 18 years experience in the field. She is a Certified Parent Educator and Licensed Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Sign Language Instructor. You can visit her site, at www.learnandgrowtogether.com