New Legislation in Education

Discussion in 'TM Lounge' started by trumpeterb, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. trumpeterb

    trumpeterb Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2003
    For those of you that are public school teachers, like myself, you may be familiar with the new "No Child Left Behind" act that has been introduced into the public education system. For those of you that are not familiar with the act, it simply states that by a certain year, every child in the school will be proficient or advanced at certain subjects. This is determined by state standardized tests. For schools that do not meet this requirement, the government will step in and start taking control of the school in some ways. Most educators think this is a load of bull, as the act does not take into account different social and economic situations, or any other situations as that goes. In other words, those students that are have learning handicaps, or perhaps are mentally deficient (retarded, ADD, etc.), are expected to perform as well on the state tests as those that are at the top of their classes. As a teacher, I know that there are currently students in my school in the 8th grade that still cannot spell their names correctly. This is not due to a lack of teacher is due to situations that are beyond the student's control. Others in that same class, who have had the same teachers, do very well. I am really getting frustrated at the fact that people with absolutely no experience in the public schools are making up laws to govern these schools. I really think these expectations are unrealistic. Here is a brief story to put it in other words.....

    No Child Left Behind

    This comedic parable explains in layman's terms the frustrations of this act for teachers...

    If you don't understand why educators resent the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, this may help. If you do understand, you'll enjoy this analogy. Be a friend to a teacher and pass this on.

    The Best Dentist "Absolutely" the Best Dentist

    My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth, so when I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.

    "Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said.

    "No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?"

    "It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. It will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice."

    "That's terrible," he said.

    "What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"

    "Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry."

    "Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."

    "Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele; so much depends on things we can't control? For example," he said, "I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also," he said, "many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off," he added, "so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?"

    "It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. I couldn't believe my dentist would be so defensive. He does a great job.

    "I am not!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most."

    "Don't' get touchy," I said.

    "Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth.

    "Try furious. In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. My more educated patients who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating actually is a measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"

    "I think you are overreacting," I said. "Complaining, excuse making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC," I noted.

    "What's the DOC?" he asked.

    "It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly laypersons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved."

    "Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.

    The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you measure good dentistry?"

    "Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes."

    "That's too complicated and time consuming," I said. "Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure."

    "That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly.

    "Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."

    "How?" he said.

    "If you're rated poorly, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly. "You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? Big help."

    "There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at all."

    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

  2. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    "no child will be left untested"..i mean "left behind"....

    yeah it think everything you said is right on the money.
  3. DaveH

    DaveH Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Things like "No Child Left Behind..." are what I call "knee jerk" responses by the political system/politicians - aka the government - to complex problems for which a simple and quick fix type answer is sought, but for which no simple and quick answer is or ever will be possible. So, the typical political response to many public policy problems like this results in dysfunctional and unworkable public policy without any hope of any real, meaningful change because the actual roots and causes of the problems are never understood, accepted, and honestly addressed. It's politically easier and more popular to blame the schools and the teachers, than to take politically unpopular positions about the family and the general state of society that may alienate the general voting public...The bottom line in politics is the word RE-ELECTION...not problem solving...what is often happening here is the political attempt to make it appear that certain campaign promises are being fulfilled...

    The politicians either cannot or will not address the social and economic malaise out of which these problems really emerge - not to mention the overall disintegration of the family - so instead they address the parts of the system they control; i.e.,the schools, the teachers, etc...with programs and policies that are deigned to appease the population - make the voters think they are doing something about a problem - but in reality, they cannot do anything about the problem because they do not understand the problem and aren't willing to admit it, or they don't want to tackle the real issues behind the problem.

    Typical public policy...

    Read John Rosemond...he offers what I consider to be the most clear, accurate, and intelligent perspectives and commentary on what is going on in this whole arena today, especially in regard to parenting and child rearing, which is a very integral part of the entire educational process. He has columns in many major newspapers and has written several excellent book...
  4. Horn of Praise

    Horn of Praise Pianissimo User

    Nov 1, 2003
    United States
    In order for "Johnny" to learn, Johnny's parents must be involved. Also, it helps if Johnny doesn't get "stoned" three or four nights a week. And, it usually helps if Johnny has a daddy that is "around".

    Because, if daddy is there, then Johnny can be dealt with. Mommy usually isn't big enough to get Johnny's attention.

    So...are we on the same page Dave? Before I forget...a bureaucrat is a doorstop with a pulse.

    All the best.
  5. DaveH

    DaveH Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Hi, Paul,

    We're not only on the same page - we're using the same brain... :wink:

    Dave H
  6. trumpeterb

    trumpeterb Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2003
    You are exactly right. The kids that do the best in my school have very supportive parents. They attend all of the kids events, help chaperoning things, etc. They are involved. They really encourage their kids to do well, and help them do well. The ones that do mediocre usually have parents that may be somewhat involved, but instead of helping the kids succeed, they simply punish them if they don't. The ones that do poorly have parents that could care less about their kids progress, and the parents themselves were most likely not successful in school. I just don't see how the teachers can win the battle against parents like this.
  7. Mikey

    Mikey Forte User

    Oct 24, 2003
    My wife is a 6th grade public school teacher. I can personally attest to your statement that when the parents are involved (notice I said PARENTS, not parent), the child almost always does better.

    You know what is really sad? When my wife has to schedule a student's parent/teacher conference on 2 different nights because the parents can't stand to be in the same room at the same time with each other. And you wonder why the kid suffers....................

    I have more stories, if anyone is interested.

  8. Larry Smithee

    Larry Smithee New Friend

    Dec 2, 2003
    Excellent analogy to the "No Child Left Behind" problem, Andy. Who was it that promoted this idea anyway?
  9. trumpeterb

    trumpeterb Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2003
    I am unsure exactly who promoted this policy, but I am pretty sure that whomever it was, they haven't spent a day in a school since the day they graduated. To me, this is like saying "all of your trumpet students will play a double C, and if they can't play a double C, I will send in a government trumpeter to show you how to properly teach a child how to play trumpet, because apparently you are a terrible trumpet teacher if your students can't play a double C." It is just terrible legislation, and the kids are going to be the ones that suffer.

    Here is yet another downfall. Some districts in my state have done this, and is truly is horrible.....the testing centers mainly in the areas of math and reading/language arts. Since the districts are now afraid to be placed on the "needs improvement" list of the education department, many are finding ways to add more time for the math and language arts/reading teachers to teach. Some districts are now offering double periods of these classes. At first glance, it doesn't look like a bad solution, but here is the problem....they are not extending the school day, and that time has to come from somewhere.....MANY MUSIC PROGRAMS ARE BEING ELIMINATED FROM SCHOOLS...along with art programs, etc.....anything that is not "inspected" on these tests are being placed at the bottom of the list of "important" subjects. Like Mr. Holland says in the movie....the kids may be able to read and write like champs, but they will soon have nothing to read or write about if you eliminate the arts......

    Here is another problem.....the reason some of these kids do poorly is due to ADD. They simply can't pay attention long enough to process the information......if they can't sit through a regular length class and "get it", how is doubling that amount of time going to help......

    Just my 2 cents as a teacher.

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