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Subject: [IP] more on "NCLB: The Implausible Dream"

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To: Ip ip <>
  • Date: Sun, 12 Jun 2005 08:52:43 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: June 11, 2005 7:15:21 PM EDT
To:, 'Ip ip' <>
Cc: Brett Glass <>
Subject: RE: [IP] "NCLB: The Implausible Dream"

I agree that there are lots of problems with the current approach and we need a “do over”.

But blaming the parents is unfair – sure they are important but those students who most need help either have parents who need help themselves or may have neurological differences that are not amenable to simply trying the old stuff “more”. If parents are to be part of the solution then we need an education system that is more inclusive and continuing.

I agree that too much burden is placed on the teachers – why is there so little effort to take advantage of technology to make education more available to those who want to learn on their own. Imagine if text book and lecture content were available on the web so the teachers could assist learning rather than being the gating factor. I’m not talking about technology to make teaching more efficient but to make education more available and effective. (Yes, I know, it’s more complex than that)

Perhaps the bigger issue with these attempts to drag every child along is that at a time when the premium is on the ability to be adaptive and creative we are putting increasing emphasis on only what is measurable. Some testing and level setting is helpful but it’s too easy to standardize the approach and content rather. There is a strong incentive to teach to the test and only to the test. Base skills are a starting point not the goals in themselves.

It’s easy to find extreme examples of success and failure. It’s harder measure lost opportunity. Where will the disruptive innovation come from if everyone is tested on a scientific method premised on the assumption that science is about discovering the one truth rather than science as a means of questioning what we all “know” to be true.

The same simplistic approach can be found in nondiscretionary sentencing and the failure to recognize neurological issues in behavior. These align with the more general premise of a clockwork universe into each everything has its place – a quaint 19th century notion.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of David Farber
Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2005 15:42
To: Ip ip
Subject: [IP] “NCLB: The Implausible Dream”

Begin forwarded message:

From:   Brett Glass <>

Date:    June 11, 2005 12:01:02 PM EDT


Subject:            For IP: “NCLB: The Implausible Dream”

NCLB’s implausible dream
Jennifer Wilmetti


While the intent of the No Child Left Behind Act was praiseworthy, the means put in place to achieve the goals are flawed in several ways.

1. This is an under-funded mandate. We are told to perform miracles for every student with a lack of necessary resources. I am supposed to make sure that all of my students read up to grade level, but yet I can’t buy any books to help me do it!

2. We have been told “all means all.” In other words, when the act said that 100 percent of students would have to be proficient by the year 2013, they meant all. This includes students who have disabilities that make this completely impossible. By simply enacting a piece of legislation, it won’t get rid of the fact that we have students with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, Down’s syndrome, etc., who are never going to be able to achieve this. Period.

3.   Many people have started to call this act “No Child Left

Untested,” as that seems to be the focus of our teaching these days. How are we supposed to get these students up to proficiency when we never have a chance to teach them because we spend so much time testing them? We can test them until the cows come home but that doesn’t change the fact that as it stands we haven’t increased the amount of time that students spend in school. We have to find the time to test them somewhere, and that time is coming from our instructional time. Thus, we are teaching them even less than we were before this act.

4. Finally, this act holds all school staff members accountable for student achievement (or lack of student achievement). But we are missing two key pieces of the puzzle: students and parents. Teachers can do everything imaginable to increase learning but if neither of these groups buys into the package, nothing will improve. In Wyoming, none of the mandated tests are used to hold students accountable. Students learn this very quickly and fail to take these tests seriously. A couple of years ago, I was speaking with a class that included the valedictorian at our high school about the WyCAS test. When asked, the students, including the valedictorian, said that they hadn’t taken the test seriously! If this young man, who was obviously bright and driven, didn’t take it seriously, how many students did? And yet, this is one of the measures of whether we as teachers are doing our job or not!

As for the parents, if parents don’t care about education, students usually don’t care either. Parents who don’t read to their children, don’t attend school functions, don’t participate in parent/teacher conferences, fail to provide safe home environments, etc., are not doing their job as parents. The schools can try to educate them on the need for these things, but sometimes there is just no reaching them. Sometimes they are worried about making enough money to keep food on the table. Others are caught up in a web of drug abuse.

The reasons are as numerous as the students who aren’t making proficiency.

Because no lawmaker wants to try to enact a piece of legislation that would hold parents accountable for their child’s achievement in school, the law was passed that made the educators solely accountable. This isn’t fair and it isn’t realistic. Education needs to be seen as a table with four legs: teachers, school administrators, parents and students. If any one of these legs doesn’t hold up its weight, the table will fall over and there won’t be a flat surface for the education to build on.

While I can agree that we do need to do something to reform U.S. education, “No Child Left Behind” is not the tool to do it. Let’s repeal this act and start fresh with realistic expectations. Let’s include everyone in the conversation, not just lawmakers. And we need to realize that we aren’t going to be able to reform society through the schools. Reforming society as a whole is a different conversation.

Jennifer Wilmetti of Rock Springs is a teacher. e223ef748e82be328725701c006ee83d.txt

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