Thursday, January 15, 2009

No Child Left Behind

I have now had over 3 years to form an opinion on the No Child Left Behind Act (via my observations of Ariana's time in school.) And, in my humble opinion, it sucks!

While I believe that the theory is derived from a altruistic idea, it simply does not work for my child. It severely limits her education to the basic reading and math. And I do mean BASIC. As in adding single digit numbers in 3rd grade. This past summer, I completed a 3rd grade and a fourth grade math workbook with Ariana as a preparation for 3rd grade. These books included fractions, complicated word problems, multiplication and much more. Imagine my dismay when she came home from her first couple of weeks of 3rd grade reviewing addition of single and double digit numbers! Are you kidding me? When I asked the teacher about it, she replied that they would spend the first month of the year "reviewing" for the assessment tests. That is 1 whole month of learning lost to reviewing to try to falsify test results! This is what some people refer to as "teaching to the test". Ridiculous.
Not only does the NCLB Act limit the learning within reading and math, it cuts out other learning all together. Surveys of public school principals indicate that since the implementation of NCLB, 71% believe instructional time has increased for reading, writing, and math (subjects tested under the law), and decreased for the arts, elementary social studies, foreign languages and physical education. These restraints may have affected humanities and social studies curricula as well. Studies show American high school students lack basic knowledge in history, civics, and literature.
While the Act funds instruction for core subjects or for remedial special education, it cuts out any programs for gifted and talented or high performing students. The education of these children is brought down to the homogenized idea of learning that the government had designed. As I have complained over the years, I have been told again and again that the teachers must stick to the provided curriculum and not stray for any student. If I want Ariana to learn anything 'different', I need to do it with her at home. Well, I do broaden her education at home... however, when she goes back to school and practices ideas that she has learned 2 years previously, what good does that do? We have been asked if we want Ariana to skip a grade. Well, no, we don't. She is not socially advanced and would not do well with children older than her. She is already the youngest kid in her class as it is. We just want her to be taught at a 3rd grade level, as we used to know it.
One last issue I have with the Act... Schools are also required to provide contact information for every student to the military if requested. Funny how they slipped that into the Act. What the hell does recruiting my children have to do with bettering their education?

This Act is in major need of reform... Please, Obama, help us!

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