Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hey, Bush! Leave those kids alone

In the last policy address of his presidency, George W. Bush reiterated his support of No Child Left a Brain. Bush also gave his first policy address about education back in 2001 in the early days following his ascent to power. He apparently misunderestimated the situation. He's correct that our schools need to be improved. But the fixes he tried to introduce were all wrong.

We know the right wing agenda has failed America's students.

Many conservatives and business executives want more standardized testing and a diversion of funding away from public schools to private ones. We believe that education should be about learning to love learning and to critically think. But we both know that the current system is not working.

So, how is it that we have someone who had a 2.5 grade point average lecture America about education? I will have to defer to Bush on that:
We saw a culture of low expectations. You know what happens when you have low expectations? You get lousy results. And when you get lousy results, you have people who say, there's no future for me in this country.
Luckily we know there is a future for this country with Barack Obama as president and Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.

Young people voted for this new president in record numbers. They voted for him in part because they believe in public education. When we have a country where students are educated to think instead of follow orders, we know that there will always be a future for America. Unfortunately, the No Child Left a Brain Act leaves no room for critical thinking, just tests and more tests.

In Advanced Placement World History (a high school course that offers college credit), students get a chapter to review as a class and I chose the chapter about American expansionism. The most interesting subject for me was the founding of Canada because Canada is currently going through a political crisis.

It is very relevant to the class and to current events (See the Daily Show's take). My teacher told me that I couldn’t do that because I needed to instead review the whole chapter instead of a more in-depth topic.

I asked her why and she said that the founding of Canada will not be on the test, but that Simon Bolivar will be. With all respect to Simon Bolivar, I don’t want to gloss over his accomplishments; instead I want to focus on something that matters right now and is more interesting to me.

Curriculum nowadays is designed around test preparation. That's evident in Dubya's narrow minded thinking about the matter:
And for those who claim we're teaching the test, uh-uh. We're teaching a child to read so he or she can pass the test.
No, we need to teach students to read so that they can contribute to society. We need to teach reading so that students are able to think critically and sustain our democracy. I don’t care what is on the test, I care about what is happening outside the classroom. In the real world, tests don't look like the WASL or the SAT. They're common, everyday challenges that have to be overcome.

That's what teachers should be helping students get ready for.

We believe in a school system that provides each and every student with the resources they need to learn and succeed. That is the future we strive for, Mr. Bush. A future where the government provides an equal education for all.

We call upon President-elect Obama and Secretary of Education designate Arne Duncan to reform our schools to restore progress towards this future. Nothing less than America's survival as a democracy is at stake.


OpenID agingreluctantly said...

NCLB is why there are so many good/great ex-teachers in other industries. It is part of the "dumming" down of the American Student, so that only those that can afford a private school (that do not have to follow NCLB) education, actually get a good/rigorous education.


January 18, 2009 8:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home