Friday, August 3, 2007

Story of the Week -- July 30 - Aug 3

Left Behind

I was clicking around aimlessly on Facebook, going through random profiles, like most of us do when there's downtime at work and you've read all the blogs you can stand, and I came across the profile of someone from camp who is on staff this year. And under jobs it said "counsler".

There are, I think, four things you should be able to, no matter, what, spell correctly: your name, your address, the name of your school or place of business, and your job title. Certainly, I hate to see his resume some day.

But that's not what bothered me. What bothered me is what happened when I clicked the word "counsler" and up came a list of almost forty people who were "counslers." And that got me thinking.

The debate re-opened this week on a little piece of Republican wunder-legislation called No Child Left Behind. And I think it's pretty clear: shit's not working.

Actually, children aren't left behind per se.

Of the 40 or so people who listed that they are or were once "counslers", (and these are completely unscientific and mostly meaningless numbers) 10 of them are high school graduates, at least 8 of them are in college, 3 are college graduates and at least 1 made it into graduate school. One of them, sad to say, graduated from my alma mater. So it seems in this country, we are dragging everyone along whether they are ready or not. Can't spell? Can't read? doesn't matter, we need the federal funding, so you pass.

That is the main beef with NCLB. The law places too much emphasis on math and reading test scores and then penalizes schools that score poorly. Shouldn't it be the opposite? But then, that penalizes schools who do well, doesn't it? So then, who's being left where?

Congressman George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House education committee, is trying to rewrite NCLB and change the measures for achievement that determine the level of funding. Mostly, he's trying to take the emphasis away from the tests. He wants a law that makes sense, that focuses on more than just Math and Reading, and that actually holds schools accountable and you know, doesn't leave anyone behind, literally more than symbolically.

But the Republicans will have none of that. They'd like everything to stay the way it is. (Sound familiar?) As the Bush administration continues to be one of "if it's broken, pretend like it ain't."

“Throughout our schools and communities, the American people have a very strong sense that the No Child Left Behind Act is not fair. That it is not flexible. And that it is not funded. And they are not wrong.” said Miller. And Republicans say any attempt to change the bill will ruin the reauthorization.

Now you're saying something! Throw out NCLB. It's a stupid law and it doesn't work. All it does is force schools to fudge test results, force teachers to teach to state tests rather than teach a wide and creative curriculum, and it drags kids up grade by grade who aren't ready. If you finish second grade, but you can't read, you need to go do second grade again. If you're old enough to be a camp counselor, and you can't spell camp counselor, somewhere along the way, you got left behind.

Assuming you weren't left behind, read on.


brookLyn gaL said...

This kind of crap really depresses me.

Samantha said...

Well, not to mention that one of the most popular shows on TV is "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"...people are given the chance to win a million dollars for proving that they're merely adequate...when more people can identify Paris Hilton than Nelson kind of makes me cry on the inside.

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