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

Saturday, September 15, 2007

California Teachers to Washington: ENOUGH!

If you are a member of the teaching profession who received a copy of the NEA Code of Ethics when you became a member, you must be wondering if Reg Weaver and Joel Packer have ever read that document, or if they just ripped it up as a condition of joining Sandy Kress and Margaret Spellings for their private fast-track school corporatization klatch with Miller and Kennedy.

It appears assured now that the NEA Suits have decided to get in bed with the coniberal globalizers, while their members and the children they teach are turned into passive consuming robots incapable of making the independent, critical decisions that free people require.

It is past time that teaching, the noblest labor, take back the professional organizations that have abandoned them. If you are looking for model, here's one:

BURLINGAME – Moving to stop more federal attacks on our students, educators and public schools, the 340,000-member California Teachers Association today kicked off a statewide campaign calling on Congress to vote no on the proposal by California Rep. George Miller and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reauthorize the failed “No Child Left Behind Act.”

Flanked by the CTA Board of Directors at a news conference, CTA President David A. Sanchez warned that House Speaker Pelosi of San Francisco and Rep. Miller, D-Martinez, who co-authored NCLB with Senator Edward Kennedy, have failed to make any substantive improvements.

California’s teachers “have had enough of the so-called No Child Left Behind Act,” Sanchez said. “It is hurting our students, our schools and our teachers. Unfortunately, the Miller/Pelosi reauthorization plan would only make the law worse. It does nothing to improve student learning and would place even more undue emphasis on test scores, create new sanctions for struggling schools, make it harder to attract and retain teachers, undermine local control, and erode employee rights.”

Sanchez said the proposal that mandates merit pay for teachers based on the test scores of students is insulting. “Test scores alone don’t measure student achievement and shouldn’t be the only method for paying or evaluating teachers.”

Instead of backing changes that punish students, teachers and schools, Pelosi and Miller should be supporting the proven reforms that teachers and parents know will help. CTA is advocating for a law that restores the federal class size reduction program, provides resources for quality teacher training, mentors for new teachers, and provides programs that promote parental and family involvement in our schools.

Sanchez also called on Congress not to repeat the mistakes of the past. “Congress should not rush through this process, as the future of our public schools depends on this law.”

Miller and Pelosi have placed the reauthorization on a fast track. Draft language was released just before midnight last Thursday, with the first congressional hearing called today. California’s teachers are in Washington D.C. for the hearing. A vote on the proposed legislation could come as early as next month.

No Child Left Behind is the misleading name given to the 2002 reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was approved by Congress in 1965 to help the nation’s most struggling schools with federal funding and is renewed every five years. In addition to its unfair sanctions, NCLB has been massively underfunded by President Bush and Congress – by $56 billion nationwide, and more than $7 billion in California.

A 2006 study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project found that the law has not helped narrow the student achievement gap and has shortchanged schools that serve mostly disadvantaged, minority students with its overemphasis on sanctions rather than assistance, said Mignon Jackson, a teacher at Paul Revere Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“Students at risk deserve better,” Jackson said. “If we’re going to close the achievement gap, we need to give our schools support, not sanctions.”

With its one-size-fits-all approach to learning, NCLB attempts to standardize students by relying too much on teaching to standardized tests at the expense of important subjects like art, music, foreign language and physical education, warned Eric Heins, a Bay Area teacher in the Pittsburg Unified School District.

“The overemphasis that this law puts on testing our students and the time required preparing them for tests takes valuable time away from what teachers really need and want to do to help students learn and think,” Heins said.

“Teachers at my school and in districts around the state work together and support one another,” said Bonnie Shatun, a teacher in the Burbank Unified School District. “All of this benefits students. This proposal would destroy that.”

In coming weeks, CTA members will be contacting every member of the California congressional delegation and urging a no vote on the current proposals. The statewide effort will also include grassroots mobilizing and a public awareness campaign. For more information visit the CTA website at www.cta.org.

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The 340,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.

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