Arkansas Democrat Gazette: The real experts are those who know the kids names

Article by By Cynthia Howell
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, said Monday that the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 has “doomed” students — primarily those who are poor and members of minority groups — to schools that are “testing factories.”

“For millions of students, the purpose of school is to hit your number,” said Garcia, who called for Congress to change the law in her speech Monday to almost 200 people at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.

Garcia said the act, which requires every state to test students in math and literacy and penalizes schools that do not meet annually escalating achievement goals, is the “most absurd bipartisan mistake Congress ever made.” She repeatedly referred to the law as “no child left untested.”

“You are experiencing what can happen when you don’t hit your quota of kids that hit the test scores on standardized tests,” said the former food-service worker and elementary school teacher.

“We don’t want to pretend that we don’t have problems in many of our schools,” Garcia said. “We are struggling to find answers so that our students can succeed. But school takeovers and calling in experts or outsiders who don’t know your children will not solve the problem.”

She said takeovers in other places typically “give the illusion” that something is being done. She said people are brought in at great cost to the state-controlled school system and work for five or six years. “Then they leave and nothing has changed,” she said.

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3 Responses to “Arkansas Democrat Gazette: The real experts are those who know the kids names”

  1. Jeff Lawrence

    Nice to see efforts being make to fix problems in the schools. Keep pushing forward.

  2. Andy Goldstein

    Reflections of an Annual Contract Teacher from Palm Beach County (published with permission):

    Are you there District? It’s me, just a teacher…

    This year more than ever there seems to be little time to do the many things that need to be done to support students. In order to be an effective teacher, a HIGHLY effective teacher, you must be able to share between 40% of yourself toward students’ emotions and social needs and 60% toward finding new and creative ways of getting old standards to present as new benchmarks and still keep students engaged enough to surpass all goals. This year for me at least, there seems to be several changes or additions to my equation of teaching and learning. I am attempting to infuse a new curriculum, toward a new state test, with new-aged, social-media students that are the product of entitlement.

    While the equation presented seems challenging to some and maybe not be worthwhile on a teacher’s salary, truth is I live for this job! I live to come to wok daily and see my students. I live to hear the words they have to say and the words that show me who they are in the moment – giving me a glimpse into who they will be in the future right before my very eyes.

    I would not trade the call to teach for another career in the world BUT, I do have to work two or three extra jobs just to support my desire to keep teaching. Sounds crazy? I said I have to work 2-3 more jobs aside from my full time teaching position just to have the opportunity to work with my students each day, hear their words and watch them grow into self-sufficient human beings. Now, let’s add on the job of parenting and taking care of a home to the equation and that is 3-4 jobs on top of my full time teaching position. Is this a complaint? Not in the least! This is just a ventation (not a word) but the best way for me to make light of my frustration.
    Each day I discuss with colleagues whom are in the same boat of LOVING teaching but confused and tired from having to supplement a salary by taking on the other jobs in order to keep teaching. What a world!?

    Instead of just working one job as a full time teacher and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, I can only get 3 hours of sleep after taking care of a family and then having to go to my next jobs. Truthfully, I am happy to find supplementary jobs so I can make extra money. Again, this is far from a complaint. Just truth and reality of the average teacher today.

    Truth to the fact that if I and many thousands of other teachers were given the opportunity to just work one job teaching full time without taking on any extra side jobs, our students could get a whole teacher that was not too tired during the day. Our students could get a whole human being who might be able to be more than highly effective as a teacher. Without having to work 3-4 jobs, many teachers could reach a new standard of teaching. A whole teacher could EXCEED highly effective status because sleep could then be a part of the crazy equation we know as the career of teaching. Just think! Whole teachers teaching whole students.

    Are you there District, it’s me, just a teacher….


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