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Hotchalk Global

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A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Seriously Flawed

Last week President Obama announced changes to the mandates of the policy “No Child Left Behind’. The Feds have admitted that the flawed policy has fallen short of its goals and perhaps educational reform is best left up to each individual state.  And to think it only took them ten years to figure that out.

Ten years were wasted under the implementation of a policy that was doomed to fail from the start.               

At the inception of NCLB, I ranted against the idiocy of standardized testing as the sole determining factor in student perfromance.  Now, the Feds agree. With each year under NCLB I watched arts budgets dwindle as money was poured in to reading and math programs.  I rallied for programs that included creative thinking skills, problem solving and divergent methodologies.  Instead, prescriptive policies and programs were shoved down our throats with students being double booked in math and reading because they tested significantly below grade level.  I offered to teach classes of math and reading through art and was told by “state NCLB consultants”- AKA- high priced figureheads- that I was not allowed to teach those subjects even though I hold a special education credential in addition to my art credential.  Not allowed??  They also boasted that the state mandated programs to improve reading and math were the only ones that would improve the scores significantly.  I asked them to put their money where their (big) mouths were and allow a controlled experiment where I could implement my math and reading through arts programs and weigh the results against theirs.  Of course they refused, and the next year I was denied my art department chair position because of my radical ideas and out of the box thinking.  And, yes, my inability to take no for an answer from an entity- be it state or federal- who knows nothing about what is beneficial for kids.  I guess I have a hard time taking direction from those who have no business giving it. 

Now, ten years later, the same “out of the box” thinking is being encouraged by the federal government to states who want to apply for a waiver which would allow them to break from key provisions required by NCLB.  Ten years of prescriptive, hollow teaching programs, ten years of struggling students being bored to tears by double sessions of their hardest subjects, ten years of pure waste.  And all because the federal government decided that maybe they should micromanage education.  It is time that those who know nothing about education get out of the way of those of us who do.  There is no federal meddling in the way firefighters, doctors or police officers are able to do their job.  Teachers should be allowed to design and execute the programs, classes, curricula and policies that best suit their students in their particular situation.  Nothing is ever concrete in education- the needs of students change from class to class as well as year to year.  Get out of our way and let us do the job we were hired to do- educate kids.

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