If you would like to add a comment to any of the threads here on AADB, registration with blogspot.com is not required. Simply click on the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of an essay, and either enter a nickname under ‘choose an identity’ or post your comment anonymously. Serious comments are always welcome.

REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

9/17/2006

The 'No Child Left Behind' Deception


In a comment he posted in response to one of mine on the ‘Looking Toward November’ thread below, Elwood Lee wrote, ‘ … I am retired and in my 70's and am out of touch with public education. Please specify if you wish to what you see wrong with it [the federal No Child Left Behind Act].’

For decades, republicans have been promising to do away with the (entirely unconstitutional) Department of Education, yet during that time no one in Washington has elevated this critical issue beyond the level of politically-opportune lip-service. George W. Bush has not only avoided the topic; he has, instead, championed possibly the most liberal, destructive, unconstitutional piece of education legislation ever to be foisted on the American people.

I could write a book on what I have seen while substitute teaching, and what I have heard from my piano students, regarding the erosive nature of No Child Left Behind. In a nutshell, I believe that NCLB stifles gifted students, and pressures schools to conform to a certain bureaucratic 'norm' – by establishing the reaching of that pre-ordained 'norm' as the goal of education. If we continue down this road, the success of our public education system will ultimately depend on the inherent value of that norm. And anyone who has taken a close look at the related goals can't help but be overwhelmed with pessimism regarding the hope of our future generations.

If we seek to have uniformity of results (which, despite protests to the contrary, is the goal of this program), then we are worshipping at the altar of bureaucracy-dictated terms of 'success'. And (worse), by requiring an interminable mountain of paperwork, and a demand that all students move at basically the same pace, we are officiously suffocating, at our peril, excellence that would naturally rise far above the norm.

My husband and I attended a conference last year at which our son, Dan, had been asked to set up a booth exhibiting the physics labs that he uses in his classroom. Dan is a high school physics teacher who designs his own labs from scratch. They are extremely innovative, and require large amounts of student hands-on participation and considerable, detailed follow-up analysis of the results.

The students love his labs, and they learn a great deal from them as a result of their real-world applications, and the fact that the students have a personal stake in carrying them out to their successful completion.

Partly, I believe, as a result of Dan's personal, real-world-connected, original style of teaching, more than a handful of his students, who had little or no interest in physics before taking his class, have decided to take what they have learned in his class and use it. A few have gone on to major on physics in college, and two have entered the armed forces with the intention of studying in a physics/engineering-related discipline.

With all of that said, Dan is your typical 'absent-minded professor'. He abhors paperwork (especially of the needless, bureaucratic sort) and does not look favorably on rigid, often outdated methods.

He has requested permission to perform many innovative labs -- some of them located, by necessity, off of school grounds, and all of them extraordinarily ground-breaking, worthwhile and meaningful to a well-grounded physics education.

The department head, and the school principal, are, from what I have observed of them, rigid, by-the-book administrators who do not take kindly to innovation of any kind, but would rather their teachers teach from a textbook that has been used for a decade or more, and simply stand in front of the class and lecture. Dan does the best he can to work around their rigidity, and often, but not always, succeeds.

No Child Left Behind fosters and emboldens such rigidity.

Let’s just take a look at one of the myriad of repercussions of NCLB mandates on our local schools: one of the changes that is scheduled to take place at Dan’s school, as an indirect result of NCLB guidelines, is that emphasis on physics, chemistry and biology is going to be decreased, and a new emphasis on the study of ‘environmental sciences’ is going to be gradually implemented to replace some physics/chemistry/biology classes.

In the minds of most conservatives, any political entity that hands down edicts containing the word ‘environmental’ is immediately suspect as embracing and promoting political correctness. And I am certain that this ‘gradual change in emphasis’ represents nothing more than politically correct curriculum changes.

In Washington, the majority of our ‘leaders’ who voice consistent concern over ‘environmental issues’ are merely left-leaning politicians who use those issues as a means of (1) gaining further control over our lives, and (2) systematically eroding our national sovereignty in deference to (often conveniently invented) global ‘environmental crises’.

If we allow the integration of these often-times-phony environmental issues into our public school curricula, we are cracking open a Pandora’s box of enormous proportions.

In a public education system that is producing high school graduates who are increasingly less able to compete with students from other countries, why on earth should a bill passed by the congress result in our nation’s school systems de-emphasizing the teaching of those science disciplines that are needed not only to see to it that our graduates are able to compete with the youth of other countries, but – even more importantly – de-emphasizing the study of those disciplines that will be vital to ensuring our national sovereignty and security?

When America is in dire need of scientists, engineers, physicists, and practical and research technicians, etc. capable of designing and building missile defense systems, aircraft, weaponry, detection methods, medications, antidotes, chemical and biological agent counter-measures, and the like to protect us from the malevolent forces that are intent on our annihilation, only a civilization bent on self-destruction would turn their young people’s focus away from the study of theoretical/practical sciences and toward politically correct ‘environmental studies’.

Yet that change of focus is just one example of many long-term potentially deadly side-effects of allowing a bloated, left-leaning federal bureaucracy to dictate how and what our children will learn. The emphasis on ‘environmental studies’ is simply the tip of the iceberg. The toxic insistence that ‘multicultural studies’ incrementally replace the study of America’s own glorious past and unprecedented moral foundation represents perhaps the most insidiously self-destructive influence in public education, and invasive academic/media indoctrination, in our history.

I also believe there are three major factors that make the classrooms of today less genuinely learning-conducive than they were forty years ago:

(1) The majority of today's students do not receive support – in terms of discipline, work ethic, and the instilling of the desire to achieve and succeed – from their parents.

(2) Innovative teachers, like Dan, are often perceived as 'troublemakers' –- especially by AFT and NEA members (Dan is one of only two teachers in his entire school who have refused to join a union) who seek to maintain the status quo, rather than using dedication and innovation to inspire.

(3) Pseudo-innovative teaching methods (that are really anything but) and pseudo-innovative curricula (‘new’ math methods, and an emphasis on leftist-authored, feel-good subjects, for example), have taken the place of focusing on the (especially, but not exclusively) science and math basics that are needed to (a) keep our graduates on a competitive level with the rest of the world, and (b) help them to comprehend the fascinating and meaningful real-world applications of what they are learning.

No Child Left Behind not only provides no solutions for any of the above, and adds even more insurmountable roadblocks to those already in place on the (cluttered) path to effective public education. But it is also being used, covertly, to lay a government-dictated groundwork for public education curricula that, I believe, will … over the long term (think frog-in-the-pot) … not only insist on politically correct viewpoints and teaching methods, but will, in effect, ‘outlaw’ any others.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

There should be more independent teachers like your son.

Anonymous said...

"When America is in dire need of scientists, engineers, physicists, and practical and research technicians, etc. capable of designing and building missile defense systems, aircraft, weaponry, detection methods, medications, antidotes, chemical and biological agent counter-measures, and the like to protect us from the malevolent forces that are intent on our annihilation, only a civilization bent on self-destruction would turn their young people’s focus away from the study of theoretical/practical sciences and toward politically correct ‘environmental studies’."

This is a very good point I never considered. So much is being done for supposedly good reasons when really the purpose is destructive for us.

daveburkett said...

Wow.

A lot of food for thought.

Jim said...

"Dan is one of only two teachers in his entire school who have refused to join a union"

Sometimes it pays to be a maverick.

Thanks for the hard hitting analysis.

2ndAmendmentDefender said...

Your son is a throwback to the way teachers used to be before they started to resent putting in any more time or effort than the unions dictate. Good for him and good for his students.

StoneMason said...

I believe everything you say here, but if N.C.L.B. is so bad why do I read that the teacher's unions are always complaining about it?

Anonymous said...

1. The federal government has no constitutional right to meddle in education.
2. Teachers unions have destroyed it for good teachers.
3. Our children's education is in the hands of mostly liberal incompetent people.

trustbutverify said...

From a recent article on gopusa.com called “It’s the Teachers Unions, Stupid!”:

Additionally, states should begin opting-out of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program. Education is and should be a local issue…period. States can and should take care of their own education needs without jumping through Uncle Sam’s hoops. If state taxpayers are going to cough up significantly more money for education, there should be no need for federal dough and all the strings and red-tape that come attached to it.

http://www.gopusa.com/theloft/?p=347

All_good_men said...

A citizen asked our local school board what would happen if we forgo receiving federal funds (the district receives about $400,000 out of a $35 million budget) and thus not be required to obey NCLB. They were told it would not make a difference since the mandates were coming through the states and we could not afford to go “private”.

Anonymous said...

Good reading:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-reviews/0807004596/ref=cm_cr_dp_pt/002-4470642-0617638?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

3timesalady said...

Thanks for the great column. The emporer has no clothes.

Don't you think that tenure, and doing away pretty much with merit raises has caused bad teachers or teachers who are burned out to stay in the system way too long? That might partly explain why there are less good teachers today than there were before the unions got in and decided to make it too hard to fire the bad ones.

If we were allowed to weed out the bad ones instead of letting them stay in the system giving our kids a mediocre education with no stimulating teaching, I think we'd be a lot better off.

joanie said...

Don't you think that tenure, and doing away pretty much with merit raises has caused bad teachers or teachers who are burned out to stay in the system way too long?

I agree with all of what you said (and thank you!), but I don’t think ‘burnout’ is necessarily inevitable for a teacher who loves teaching, no matter how long he/she is in the profession – unless that burnout is related to the teaching environment.

I have been teaching piano for more than thirty years. Yet I am constantly discovering/inventing new methods to ‘reach’ my students and to get them to recognize, and realize, their potential. Hardly a month goes by when I don’t discover or invent a new (generally mental) exercise that both helps them to progress in a faster and more primarily cognitive manner, and ignites renewed enthusiasm.

My teaching methods/techniques (especially with new students) today bear absolutely no resemblance to the ones I used just a few years ago – and the enthusiasm and accomplishment that I see in my students today are exponentially higher than they were just a few years ago as well.

Any teacher who is truly interested in the progress, success, and eagerness-to-learn of her students is equally interested in ‘growing’ herself – always seeking new and innovative ways to inspire and affirm. And I believe that teachers who suffer from ‘burnout’ have, sadly, lost that vision, and are often simply going through the motions.

As for the absence of merit raises in the teaching profession … that is criminal. I suspect that the quality of our public education began to not-so-coincidentally suffer at precisely the same time that the AFT and NEA were successful in instituting seniority-only raises. There isn’t a successful industry in any capitalist society that rewards its employees on the sole basis of time served. I believe that the teachers’ unions (and the Marxists in leadership positions at the national level), more than any other single factor, have been responsible for the decline in American education standards and curricula – and the countless deadly ramifications that a leftist-indoctrinary educational system portends.

sandra said...

"There isn’t a successful industry in any capitalist society that rewards its employees on the sole basis of time served."

Interesting point.

3timesalady said...

What a coincidence. Two of my children take piano lessons. One has taken for 4 years and one has taken for almost 2. The one who’s been taking shorter has really been giving us a hard time for the past 6 months or so. I’ve talked to her teacher about this but even though he seems concerned he doesn’t seem to have any good suggestions. Since you have been teaching for so long, do you have any advice? Do we keep fighting with her? Do we change teachers?

Can you give me an example of “new (generally mental) exercise that both helps them to progress in a faster and more primarily cognitive manner, and ignites renewed enthusiasm” and how I can tell if her teaching is doing that kind of thing?

I agree that the teacher’s unions have been a very bad influence on our country’s education system but I think the lack of involvement of parents is even worse. That is one reason we are home schooling our own.

joanie said...

3timesalady,

I have a website that describes in great detail my new music studio, as well as all of the methods, materials and personal techniques/strategies (both tried and true and brand new :) that I use in my teaching. I don’t like to disclose the link to people outside of my local area because it contains name, address, and phone number. But if you will ping me on B&F -- sorry, but I’ve forgotten your screen name there :( -- I’ll provide you the link, and my e-mail address, via private reply. If you like, we can also discuss your child’s recent difficulties, and possible solutions as well.

I admire you and your husband for home schooling! As far as I am concerned, the only way to go these days is either quality parochial schooling or home schooling, avoiding the public education system at all costs. I so respect you for being willing to spend so much of what would normally be ‘free time’ to see to it that your children receive a quality education (while your taxes are still being extorted from you in order to indoctrinate everyone else’s children … argh!). God bless you!

~ joanie