Friday, April 08, 2005

Education reform-
This is an issue of great concern to me and will probably be revisited several times.
Today on NPR I heard that the government is holding out a carrot to the states who believe that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is unfair and unreasonable by saying now instead of 1% of the kids being exempt from testing, they can have 3%. The most vocal protests about the testing has to do with having to test low-ability (special ed) kids with their grade level without making concessions like creating an easier test. The other major issue is that it's a non funded mandate from the federal government.
At first, the idea of a set standard of education sounds good. Every 4th grader in the US should have "x" amount of knoweldge. If they don't, the school is failing them. If the school continues to fail, the parents have the right to take their kids to a school that does get the job done.
But then, common sense steps in and reality hits. We all know people have different mental abilities. There are those average, above average and those below average. There's nothing any school can do to change the fact that a child with an 80 IQ will be low achieving. They will never be average, no matter how hard you test them. If you try to create a test that makes these kids able to pass, you are seriously neglecting the other students and dumbing down the entire educational system.
These are high stakes tests. Too much is riding on the outcome. It leads to a lot of pressure. Parents are told how important it is to make sure their kids are taking them, get a good night sleep, eat breakfast. Kids are told how important they are. They are bribed to be there, sometimes with small prizes, sometimes with large ones. Cheating among the school systems in some states is blatently out of control. It's ironic that Pres. Bush got this whole idea from his home state of TX, and they are outrageously cheating on their tests,financially rewarding principals and school board adminstrators for good test scores.. see story at:
So, now, my second issue. What if my school ends up being a dud? What if they never get their act together during the probabtion period and now, I can choose to take my kids to a better school? The thing is, there IS no other school here. In rural areas, we have no private schools and only one Public school. If the elementary school isn't doing a good job, there isn't another one I can take my kids to. What are we supposed to do? Send our kids to a school in the next county?
My kids already spend 3 hours on the bus daily to get to this one. My 9 year old is already waking up at 5:30 am and doesn't get home until 4:30 PM. You do the math.
I believe education is vitally important to our future and my children's future. I believe the schools should do a good job providing the intellectual background for them to achieve in life. But I also think I need to have time with them to finish the job. I do not want to rely on the school to teach my children manners, morals, or life skills. It's my job to do that but I've got to see them to do it. I do not believe a child's life needs to be totally consumed with school. I want them to ride their bikes, visit with the neighbors and get a sense of a real neighborhood. I want them to know there are responcibilities here at home and to learn the life skills they will need to live on their own. So often, the argument is that parents aren't doing this job and I get very frustrated. I do what I can, but when I have about 4 or 5 hours a day with my kids and two of those hours are spent eating,and homework intrudes on the rest (not counting church classes and school programs), when am I supposed to do "my job"?
Schools have taken on the role of moral educators as well as babysitters. There are before school programs to keep the kids whose parents have to go to work early. there are after school programs so kids have a place to be until their parents get off work. In the meantime, they teach character education, so the kids learn words like "responcibility, trustworthiness, truthfulness, caring, etc..." They teach the older ones about sexual relations and encourage abstinence. See this story at:
I see all this to be an intrusion on my role as a parent, but understand that not every parent will do this job, so the schools have to address them.
I'll end this now, but I know, I'll return to the issue again.


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