Tuesday, March 01, 2005

NCLB - It's a long one.

I am sick as a dog today. Which is a funny phrase because I've had my dog for eleven years now and she's been sick once. But still, I'm sick as a dog. Every time I cough I feel two neat lines of sharp pain shoot from behind my ears and meet at the top of my skull. I've been coughing all day and my mouth is raw from Citrusy Vitamin C filled cough drops. I've been eating like a gerbil the past five days, only eating leafy greens and fresh fruits and juices, nuts and seeds and letils... and now I'm sick as a dog. How does that work? Isn't eating good foods supposed to make you feel better? Oh well, that's the price you pay for working in a virus factory.

I'm sick, and that's probably why I'm so easily frustrated right now, but whatever the factors involved in today's ranting are, I still hate NCLB with a passion. I think Secretary Paige is a moron, and the No Child Left Behind Act is the worst thing to hit education since Standardized Testing was tied to funding. Many people don't even know what is entailed in this act, and I would like to point some things out.

1. Teachers are the only professionals in America who are being told how to do their jobs by people who have never been trained to do the same thing.

Why don't we have the Attorney General set up a system of measures to evaluate the performance of our Lawyers in this country? I mean, I know the educational system is a mess right now, but does anyone care that minorities make up 80% of the prison population and the average income for a prison inmate is under $15,000 a year before incarceration. Does De Facto racism in the Penal System alarm anyone? Football players literally get away with murder because they're rich, Pop Stars are allowed to molest children in their pediphile California ranches because they have the money to get away with it, meanwhile the poor minorities in America are being thrown in jail and someone is loosing the key. But we don't sick the government on the Lawyers! We yell at the teachers and pull their funding.

Why don't we have the Surgeon General set up a system of measures for Doctors in America? Does anyone care that health care costs are beyond means for a huge percentage of Americans? Does anyone care that a huge group of Americans can't even afford to see their doctor's because the Lawyers are making a killing off of Malpractice suits, and in return the Insurance companies are raping the doctors? Does anyone care that prescription drugs are more expensive in this country than they are in any other country? Of course, our drugs are more expensive because they're safe right? The FDA makes sure nothing harmful is sold in America and that's why we have to buy brand name drugs from Merk and Phizer. Why then doesn't the FDA prohibit the sale of anti-depression drugs to children because studies have shown that they lead to suicidal tendencies? The Drug Administration in Britain stopped allowing the sale of Anti-Depression drugs to minors years ago. But then again, drugs aren't as safe in Britain and Canada as they aren't they are in America. That's why we have to pay so much for our drugs. No one in Canada is dying from taking bad drugs, and yet the poor in America are dying because they can't afford any drugs. I'm sure none of this has anything to do with the money going into the politicians from the generous Drug Corporations Lobbyists.

2. The Tests that are administered are subjective by default.

In the state of Ohio, students have to pass the Ohio Graduation Test. These test scores are largely based on a student's constructed response essays. These are answers that the students are to write out on their own. These responses are graded by people in the Ohio Department of Education, and there are no regulations as to the degrees these people have to hold. They could have secretaries grading these tests if they want to. If one of my students says that the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist activity, someone who has never studies history will quite possibly be evaluating the historicity of that claim. If he or she does not agree, my student does not get credit for answering the question correctly.

3. Tying funding to test scores is inherintly racist.

It is true that students in a lower socio-economic income bracket are less likely to come to school on a given day for any number of reasons. If Mom has to work, they might have to baby sit. If Mom is out of work, they might have to work. Crime is more prevalent in neighborhoods in lower socioeconomic brackets. Children in these neighborhoods are more likely to be persuaded into gang activity which takes kids out of school every day. Poorer neighborhoods are predominantly minority populated. Meaning that the schools responsible for educating the most challenging groups of students are predominantly responsible for educating minority students. If these students do not come to school on a regular basis, the funding for the school is cut. If the school is unable to afford enough teachers to maintain a safe environment, the good students will be afriad to come to school and will transfer to public charter schools, or private schools. So, the schools that are at a handicap when it comes to education, are being penalized for trying to teach the difficult students. The teachers in these areas are paid less money than the teachers in more affluent areas. Therefore, the teachers who graduate with aplomb, will not be heading for the inner city. We are robbing the minorities in this country of a good education because we are herding the money and the best teachers into White neighborhoods that can afford to educate students in America today.

4. The passing percentages are unreachable.

Every year schools in America are responsible for passing more students through more tests. This year, a school must have 60% of its students pass the Math and Reading secitions of the State Standardized Tests. Each year, a new test is added to these requirements, and the passage rate goes up. By the year 2012, every school in America will be required to pass no less than 100% of its students through all five standardized tests. If a school fails to do so, it will be placed on the "At Risk" list and begin to loose funding.

5. Schools are encouraged to handicap students.

Schools in Ohio receive an average of $5,000 per student. If a student has a learning disability... anything from ADD to Severe Mental Retardation, that student is placed on an Individualized Education Plan. Once a student has an IEP, the school recieves a bonus in funds because it takes more money to educate a student with special needs. On average, a student on an IEP is worth $15,000. Students with severe mental handicaps are worth even more. These IEPs are granted after School affiliated psychologists evaluate the students to see if they are at risk. In other words, schools that are loosing funding are encouraged to claim that its student's are mentally handicapped in order to get more funding.

The purpose of an IEP is to give the student supplemental materials that will help him or her to eventually catch up with the other students. Once the student has done so, that student will no longer have an IEP and the school will loose roughly $10,000 a year. Meaning, if we succeed in educating these students, we are fined $10,000.

6. Testing requirements persuade schools to turn away those in need.

Students with legitimate mental handicaps are responsible for taking the same tests as gifted students. Meaning if I educate a student who has the mental capacity of a six year old, he or she still has to take the test for 10th grade proficiency. That student will fail that test because he or she is incapable of the higher level processing demanded by the constructed response questions on that test. However, this student's score will be included in my school's average. If the average is below a certian number, my school funding will be cut. In other words, I am encouraged to take students who have ADD so that I can get extra funding for them, but I want to dissuade students with Autism from attending my school because they will bring our scores down. Meaning that I want priveledged students whose parents had enough money to take them to psychologists for diagnoses, but I don't want to educate the students who are truly in need of special care.

I agree that public education is in danger. I agree that our schools need help. I agree that the future of this country is dependent on the students in our schools today. If we do these students a disservice by refusing to fund their education, we will jeopardize the stability of the country when they grow older. We need to do something, and I'm not sure what we need to do to fix education in America today, but robbing the schools who need money the most does not seem to be a good solution. I wish I could do something about it all. I am sick... and tired of NCLBullshit.

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