stephanie jones

Pell Grants for Kids?!

In justice, kindergarten, NCLB, politics, poverty on January 29, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Come on Mr. President…do you think a new initiative will disguise the atrocious failure of No Child Left Behind? Despite his (false) claims that Math and Reading scores are higher than ever, George W. Bush continues to search frantically for any potential success story in the realm of education during his administration. It’s time to face the facts, however, and those include:

1. The federal government has never made sufficient funds available to pay for its NCLB mandates in education leaving local districts and state bodies scrambling to pay the bill, often resulting in the elimination of art, music, PE, and other “extra” classes, field trips for children, classroom materials that could be used for hands-on learning experiences, and even in some cases eliminating faculty or support positions. Leaving local schools and states standing with the enormous bill for NCLB mandates is both unethical and unconstitutional.

2. Curricula (ESPECIALLY in schools serving many working-class and poor students and students of color) has been narrowed so much that students no longer have the option of receiving a well-rounded, rich education that can prepare them for being engaged citizens in a democracy. Even in “Math” and “Reading” students are merely being taught to take tests.

3. The testing frenzy is so out of control that even kindergarteners can be found in classrooms sitting at their seats with paper and pencil. For many kindergarten classrooms, long gone are “luxuries” such as recess, rest time, story time, dramatic play, and hands-on exploration.

4. Students are being pushed out of school so they will not bring a school’s overall score “down.”

5. Teachers are pushing every boundary possible, and even some outright “cheating” on tests to avoid the devastating results if a struggling school does not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

6. Teachers are told to “teach the ones who you think can pass” and essentially forget the others. Geesh…that sounds a lot like leaving children behind.

7. Even affluent suburban schools are finding it difficult to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) because their scores tend to be high to begin with and to consistently increase those scores every single year is nearly impossible. Thus, the testing frenzy and detrimental effects infiltrate all schools with teachers complaining, “everything is about the test!”

Don’t believe me? There are hundreds of publications about the detrimental effects NCLB has had on children, families, schools, teachers, administrators, budgets, test scores, and education. Here’s one of the latest.

No Child Left Behind is up for Reauthorization this spring. Let’s not continue to allow this Act that is designed for inevitable self-implosion to ruin educational opportunities for all children – and most of all for the children who have been underserved by the system for so many generations.

And Pell Grants for Kids is just another way to rape public schools of funding and give public funds to the private and faith-based sector. Yet another attempt to erode public education for all. Can we not see the writing on the wall?

  1. […] The Engaged Intellectual asks whether this new initiative is intended to divert attention from the failures in NCLB in her […]

  2. […] excellent analysis on that mention of NCLB here. Not a day goes by that I don’t experience the corrosive nature of that law. To look at our […]

  3. ergh… so true…!
    check out jim cummins’ article in the dec 2007 issue of ed researcher: “Pedagogies for the Poor? Realigning Reading Instruction for Low-Income Students With Scientifically Based Reading Research”
    here’s the abstract:
    In this article, the author argues that there is minimal scientific support for the pedagogical approaches promoted for low-income students in the federal Reading First initiative. In combination with high-stakes testing, the interpretation of the construct systematic phonics instruction in Reading First has resulted in highly teacher-centered and inflexible classroom environments. By privileging these approaches, Reading First ignored the National Reading Panel’s finding that systematic phonics instruction was unrelated to reading comprehension for low-achieving and normally achieving students beyond Grade 1. Also ignored was the significant body of research suggesting that reading engagement is an important predictor of achievement. Alternative evidence-based directions for rebalancing reading instruction for low-income students are suggested in the context of the impending reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind legislation.

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