"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I work while the test makers get rich...

I walked into the house tonight and immediately realized that the good feelings I felt were because of the time I spent today with my students and the time I spent today reading about ways to reach them.

My students are the ones who fall through the cracks...a category of students which is growing by leaps and bounds thanks to No Child Left Behind. Generally I work with the kids who test too well to get the extra help from Special Education, but who are still having trouble in class, failing at one or more subjects, usually reading, and failing the state test mandated by NCLB.

Why is this category growing? Not because NCLB makes kids poorer students, though it might be argued that is true (maybe next week). No, it's because with all the money spent on tests, test prep, and test administration there is not enough to spend on people to work with them. I only work part time...with first and second graders. Where are the kids I worked with who were in second grade last year? They are floundering in third grade...their classroom teachers overwhelmed with the paperwork tasks that have grown since the passage of NCLB. The good teachers do what they can to help the kids, but there is only so much you can do when there are 25 other students waiting for a turn.

In any case, today was the first day in which I worked with my students during my entire time at school. Why, you ask, haven't I done that before. The answer is that I have been too busy with the standardized tests. Yesterday those misused and misinterpreted instruments of torture finally disappeared from my room...the boxes were sent to the central office and from there they will go to wherever it is they go to be scored.

And, as the test makers get rich and keep the pressure on congress to continue the parts of NCLB which give them the opportunity to make the tests...and make the test prep materials so that kids will do better on the tests...and make the text books which the students will use in their classes...I will take a few of the forgotten children, who we can't afford to lose, but who we can't afford to help, and in a half a day of teaching, in half hour session, I'll try to work the miracles needed to keep them from failing.

Read the Declaration of Independence From High Stakes Testing

No Child Left Behind is leaving thousands of children behind!
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