"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, March 27, 2006

Does Anyone Understand English?

One has to wonder if there's anyone left in Washington who understands English.

The writing is on the wall about the damage and destruction inflicted by NCLB on education. With immigration reform and mass demonstrations front and center this week, let's not forget the pain and humiliation being inflicted on the children of immigrants who are being targeted by the escalating xenophobia associated with their poor performance on those "tricky" standardized tests as the schools they attend are labeled failing.

It's time to start speaking the language Congress understands -- how do you say "It's time for them to go" in doublespeak?
Time to rethink No Child Left Behind
Other voices: Elaine Olund

The Enquirer - Cincinnati.com

Recently my fifth-grader was working on a practice math test. "I don't understand question 36," she said. It was not the first time that evening that she'd had difficulty figuring out the poorly worded questions. I didn't get it either. The syntax was so mangled it was hard to tell what they wanted.

My seventh-grader chimed in. "They're trying to fool you," she said. "See, the writing's all twisted." She shook her head, and sighed deeply. "We've spent a lot of time lately learning about these tricks they put in."

My fifth-grader looked worried. Kids feel the weight attached to this test. We received four phone messages before the test, including one from the superintendent, urging us to be sure our children are rested, fed and ready for the tests.

The tests hurt curriculum as well. Everything other than drilling for the tests seems to go by the wayside in the weeks leading up to them. Many teachers want to integrate the test topics into their lessons over the course of the year, but the review material arrives just a few weeks before the tests.

Even worse, such "zero-tolerance" policies leave no room for compassion and common sense. Because no child is to be "left behind," mentally handicapped children must be tested, even if it stresses them to the point of throwing up. There are even procedures for scoring these vomit-covered tests, which sounds more like federally mandated child abuse than federal child advocacy.

The advocates of NCLB should imagine being judged on one test, rather than on their performance over the whole year. Now imagine that you are an immigrant student, being tested in a language you learned just last year. Now, pick up your No. 2 pencil and begin rethinking this legislation.

Elaine E. Olund of Clifton is the mother of two students in Cincinnati Public Schools.
Here's a story about what education is supposed to look like for those who have forgotten the meaning of the word:

NCLB: No Culture Left Behind
By Quad-City Times

Much of the trouble with No Child Left Behind involves its obsession with test-driven reading, math and science instruction at the expense of skills that really matter in the real world: creativity, problem solving and expression. It’s not enough to know how to divide or conjugate verbs. Students need to know how and when to productively apply these and other hard academic skills.

This past summer, Lincoln Fundamental School received its charter to become the Lincoln Academy of Integrated Arts, an arts magnet school near downtown Davenport. At Lincoln, arts are used as a tool to teach every subject, opening up more engaging, creative ways of teaching and learning.

Principal Jeff Womack is among the staff and teachers who are learning how to integrate arts through Quad-City Arts and instruction from Dr. Sharon Shaffer of the Smithsonian Institute. It is important to “not leave our culture behind as we are not leaving children behind,” says Womack. “Our cultural opportunities
are the reflections of who we are as a people.

The question is: Who are we as a people?

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