Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NCLB approaches a vote

It looks like the vote on the re-authorization of NCLB will be after Oct.8. CTA has mounted a major campaign to stop the bill in its present form. There are many reasons to oppose it, including those of CTA.
Please write to your Congressperson today.
Your Congressperson:
Ie. Doris Matsui,

Congressman George Miller,
Chair, House Committee on Education and Labor,

Dear Congressman Miller,

I have read your statements on NCLB. You are not getting to the heart of the issues.
I write from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party and, I do not accept your present commitment to NCLB. It is a Republican bill, drafted by Republicans, and you are negotiating the margins.

The domination of school reform dialogue by conservative political forces and corporate financed institutes (1983- 2008) produced a shift in discussion of school issues away from equal opportunity and toward analysis of the “achievement gap” the gap in scores between ethnic and economic groups. . The accountability movement stressed increased testing rather than relying upon teacher curriculum decision making. It is noticeable in this debate that the conservative policy advocates did not have their children or grandchildren in low income schools where the curriculum and teaching has too often been reduced to drill and test. Their children are in middle class schools – higher achieving schools- where the curriculum and teaching strategies remain more open, more child friendly, more divergent and where schools pursue multiple goals, not only improved test scores

In political terms this shifted responsibility for children’s educational achievement from the unequal government funding and placed it at the feet of teachers and education professionals while also demonizing teachers’ unions and other education professionals. The accountability and testing movement changed the educational debates away from discussion of democracy and multicultural education toward measuring achievement in math and reading. These shifts were not accidental nor are they politically neutral.

We are in a difficult situation; our students’ futures and the health of our democracy depend upon engaging in the struggle for democratic education. If we want democracy, we must educate for democracy. Democracy depends upon the participation of its members in the political, social, cultural and economic institutions. We do this through public schools. The current federal law, No child left behind (NCLB) and most state school reform plans remove teachers, students and parents from active involvement in decision making about standards, testing, and curriculum, and restricts the decision making of elected school boards.
The fundamental issue is you need to start listening to teachers, not to "educational experts" who make their living by commenting on teachers lives.

In addition. The ultimate sanction against a low performing school is some form of take over or re-constitution. This has been done in many places including Oakland Unified. There is no evidence of improved achievement after a take over.
There are good talking points at www.elladvocates.org and at http://www.cta.org and http://www.nea.org
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