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

Friday, March 16, 2007

Educator Roundtable in Atlanta Today

The 28 years I spent in Georgia schools had a profound effect on who I am and how I think. I am the product of tremendous public schools and amazing teachers. But now I see the federal No Child Left Behind Act undermining both.

NCLB was supposed to narrow the “achievement gap” between black and white students. According to Harvard’s Civil Rights Project and recent national test results, it has not done so. In fact, it may be exacerbating the situation as highly qualified teachers leave failing schools, unwilling to work in unrewarding, high-stress environments.

In our frantic race to ratchet up test scores we have turned schools into oppressive institutions that dehumanize and miseducate. Many young students are learning to hate learning.

As school districts across the country jettison history, civics, science, the arts and foreign languages, they are doing away with subjects that lead students to better understand who they are and where they are going. The ultimate price: a society of hard workers but shallow thinkers.

Shouldn’t America treat its most precious resource better?

Today’s guest blogger, Philip Kovacs, is an assistant professor of education at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Kovacs grew up and attended public schools in Fayette County, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a master’s and doctorate from Georgia State University. Also chairman of the Educator Roundtable, a grassroots group pushing for the repeal of NCLB, Kovacs will be at GSU Saturday hosting a one-day conference on the federal law.

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