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Politics & Power - RIP Senator Edward Kennedy (1932 - 2009)

What's new on The American Borders Forum this week? Preview pane at the bottom of the page.

Has Education “Reform” Done More Harm Than Good To American Public Schools?

A few years back Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed “No Child Left Behind”. This “landmark” legislation was supposed to “reform” the system and improve the schools by setting standards at every grade level to promote better education of our children through frequent testing and putting an end to the “social promotion” of children from one grade to another without knowing the material they should know.

On the surface it sounds great! Kids are taught the things they need to know to succeed and teachers and schools are held accountable for results. The problem was that it was what is known in political terms as an “unfunded mandate”. An “unfunded mandate” is when government tells people that they should achieve a certain result but does not provide the means for them to do so. In other words Congress and the White house tell the people “You will get this result. We don’t care how you do it and we won’t make sure you have the resources to do it but it’s the law now so you will do it.”

“No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) was just such a law. It provides for withholding funding for schools if they don’t perform but does not really add enough funds for struggling schools to have the resources to get on track in the first place. There are no provisions in the law to prevent States from cutting school funding or augmenting reduced State funds with federal money but the results must be achieved nonetheless. It also doesn’t take into account different learning styles or many other issues impacting the achieving of the goals but that’s a whole other discussion.

While some, myself included until recently, might think the law should be repealed the problem is that it is the core federal funding for our schools and simply repealing it would not serve the children or our nation’s future either. And to be fair, there should be some level of standards for education. There are things kids need to learn in order to prepare themselves for working in the real world. The law probably shouldn’t be repealed but it clearly needs to be improved beginning with funding.

Our schools cannot succeed when they are facing constant budget cuts. Schools are too often the sacrificial lambs of legislators trying to “live within their means”. Business subsidies and foreign aid take precedence over school funding. We the taxpayers of these United States spent almost a trillion dollars bailing out businesses that failed because of foolish business practices but could not afford to make sure that every classroom in the nation had adequate heat in the winter and that every school in the nation had working toilets. We can afford to give billions to bankers but not thousands to schools in need. Where the hell have our priorities gotten to?

The kids in school today are the professionals of tomorrow. If nothing else the current financial crisis has shown us that we need to do a better job of teaching the children of today to learn from the mistakes of history. Wall Street recently collapsed because morons in business suits didn’t pay close enough attention in history class to the things that led up to the 1930’s stock market crash and did the same foolish things all over again with a 21st Century twist. Clearly the people in Washington didn’t learn from the past either because they dismantled the laws made after the Great Depression that had kept the markets stable for sixty odd years. We clearly need to do a better job teaching the kids the lessons of history and we can’t do that on a shoestring budget. Additionally they need to learn math, science, languages and various other things to make them well-rounded and well grounded adults who can support the economy that will support us in our golden years. That takes money and we’re currently not doing a good job of getting the money into the schools.

NCLB did less than half the job it set out to do. Standards are all well and good but if you don’t set those standards to be ones that lead to real success or give the teachers the means to meet those standards you do set they are completely worthless and do more harm than good. One size does not fit all in teaching or testing. Standardized testing as the basis of the entire educational system does not foster real learning or innovative thinking. The kids end up learning just enough to pass some test devised by some academic who has never lived in the real world and still come out of school not knowing how to think for themselves.

Congress needs to create a national panel of parents, students, teachers and business people crossing all socio-economic lines to develop real world curriculum and achievable goals for students and teachers. Then Congress needs to make the recommendations of that panel the law of the land with a provision for periodic review of the standards and curriculum by the aforementioned national panel of parents, students, teachers and business people. Then Congress needs to provide guaranteed adequate funding for schools to achieve the goals in the best way possible.

“No Child Left Behind” has not achieved the goals it set out to achieve. There is still a long way to go to get our schools where they need to be. Full school funding needs to be guaranteed, teachers need to be paid salaries that make the profession attractive to the best and the brightest, testing standards need to be based in reality and standardized testing needs to be only a small fraction of student and teacher evaluation. The next generation needs to be creative, critical thinking and have a keen sense of history to avoid making the same mistakes we have made. NCLB is not going to achieve that so we need to change it now before another generation is doomed to repeating the mistakes of the past.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer| Give your feedback on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net





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