Posted In: ESEA/NCLB, Uncategorized

Tell Congress: Help Our Public Schools Ensure a High Quality Education for All Students

The time has come for Congress to craft a fair, flexible, and innovative education law that can bring about sustainable positive change for all of America’s public school students, while maintaining the goals of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, which focus on equity and shared responsibility.

All students deserve great public schools and Congress has a responsibility to ensure the appropriate support and policies so that all students are given an opportunity for an education that allows them to thrive.

A new ESEA should:

  • Promote innovation, high expectations, and encourage development of 21st century skills in public schools.
  • End the obsession with high-stakes, poor-quality tests by developing high-quality assessment systems that provide multiple ways for students to show what they have learned.
  • Support schools with needed resources, especially school districts in the most need, and should not impose vouchers that drain money from local public schools.
  • Promote public education as a shared responsibility of parents, communities, educators, and policymakers.
  • Help empower educators to focus on what’s important: student learning and achievement.

By signing this petition, I am telling Congress to do the right thing on ESEA and make all students and their education a top priority.

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Reader Comments

  1. Kim C.

    Education for every child is a necessity! Although most are taught basics at home, early education promotes better decision making and the desire to learn more. All of my children went to preschool & have become better at their jobs and education. As a matter of fact, my 3 children are presently continuing their education. We can all learn more and the want to learn more starts at an early age. This bill should have not been passed as it infects the country’s children with negativity.

    Reply
  2. Kathleen Nauer

    I am very disappointed in your vote on this bill. If the government doesn’t care about education being equally accessible, it wont be in any other realm except for the very wealthy. Teacher pay is ever more eroded. I have been a teacher for over 20 years, and my income doesn’t stretch to the end of the month. I rent a bedroom to a student in another nearby college and have had to do so for the last 5 years or so. I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but sometimes cannot buy all of the medication I need. The continuing cuts, have taken my department from 3 full time teachers and 10 – 12 part time teachers down to 2 full time and 3 part-time teachers. The other areas in our division have experienced similar cuts. The number of classes is down to 40% of what we once offered. Community colleges are the way most people need to get their children some college education. If you don’t start paying someone with an advanced masters degree a comparable salary to what the private sector in their fields pay, I truly do not know where you will get teachers when my (baby boomer) generation retires.

    I have relatives with disabilities that require special education, and also that have English as a second language. I have taught hearing impaired students at the Junior college level. On many levels I view this bill as seriously flawed. Public education is the foundation of this country’s benefits, and the path to a better life. If you disable that, you cripple the nations future.

    I am not worried about the wealthy. They can and often do send their children to private schools. But for the middle class, lower class, or anyone that is not truly wealthy with a handicapped child, I question the merits of this bill as passed.

    kathleen nauer

    Reply
  3. Dale Truman

    A 2002-2003 study of 99,000 Florida fourth-graders found that students who were retained in third grade performed better than similar students who had been socially promoted the year before. The study by Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters casts doubt on the current fashion of socially promoting students year after year. Rather than retain students for a second year at an appropriate level of instruction, we promote them to a more difficult level, where they have little chance of performing well on. The claim by the education establishment has always been that such students will be provided with individual instruction to fill in what they have missed. State test results tell a different story, with some high schools reporting as many as 30% of their entering freshmen still reading at the fourth-grade level or below.
    If schools are not making Adequate Yearly Progress, it may well be the fault of social promotion, not unreasonable testing standards or faulty teacher evaluations. No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the bipartisan education act co-authored by Ted Kennedy, John Boehner, and others, evaluated performance according to the grade in which the school chose to place the students, not according to how old they were. Students reading at the third-grade level were shown as proficient if they were placed in third grade, in need of remediation if they had been promoted to fourth grade, and below basic if they had been promoted even further. Schools which wish to show adequate yearly progress should stop promoting third-grade students who are not proficient and instead retain them as Florida has done.
    Florida Department of Education Director of K-12 Test Administration Susie Lee said 29 percent of Florida’s third-graders were held back when the program began in 2001. By 2011, only 16 percent were held back.
    Similarly, 57 percent of third-graders were reading at grade level in 2001 while 72 percent were doing so last year.

    Students who are struggling are given extra help until they can reach the appropriate grade level but students can move on to fourth grade only if they meet the requirements or can qualify under a “good case exception” in certain circumstances.
    “We generally see a bump (in grade-level reading) each year,” Lee said. “I think the program is meeting its goals.”
    Fourteen states recently approved or are introducing similar legislation.

    Reply
  4. Katrina Molnar-Dietz

    I am the mother of three special needs kids. The way NCLB is currently being implemented in our state is absolute torture. Two of the kids are tweeners — low IQ but not low enough for life skills classes. They are made to take the same test as the kids going on to college AND score the same level score OR they have to take remediation classes ON TOP of their regular classes. This is intellectually and emotionally difficult for them, and unjust for the school to try scheduling remediation on top of regular classes. (We are facing three years of remediation hell if we want them to have a “normal” diploma.)

    A fairer way would be to have different levels of requirement before a kid gets slammed with remediation–higher for your college bound kids, a little lower for trade school kids, and lower yet for the tweeners.

    Personally, all I care is that my garbage collector knows his route and gets all the bags; my day care provider can read simple stories and recognize when my child acts differently; and my kennel owner can keep the kennels clean and knows when the dog is not acting right so the vet can be called. None of these truly requires algebra, geometry, or interpretation of Shakespeare or Hawthorne.

    Reply
    • LIse

      Teachers are upset about special education kids having to take tests with their grade level whether or not they comprehend. It doesn’t matter whether they are read to or given more time if they cannot process the information! When will our legislators GET THIS?

      Reply
  5. Kerry Hyman

    When the major banks, (whose assets include 40% of stocks on over 43,000 major corporations that are publicly traded, and 60% of the earnings on the capital market) crashed IN 2009, they were bailed out ($4.7 TRILLION in tax payer dollars).

    They were hardly without assets!

    But our representatives hold our college students’ feet to the fire and allow their loan rates to double, and cut programs that affect our next generation! Our legislature has been reduced to attacking the easy meat, namely, our most vulnerable and less well connected targets, while they turn a blind eye to the continued fleecing of our middle class, and choose instead, favor for the wealthy and powerful who don’t really need their help. It’s a disgrace!

    Reply
    • ANNE

      Yes, JP Morgan had over 7 Billion offshore at the time. WATCH THE VOTES OF YOUR REPRESENTATIVES- IF THOSE VOTES ARE MORE FOR THE WEALTHY AND CORPORATE WELFARE THAN YOU AND OTHER CITIZENS, VOTE THEM OUT……WORK TO HAVE THEM VOTED OUT. THEY ARE STEALING US BLIND TO PAD THEIR OWN POCKETS.

      Reply
  6. Will H

    As an educator with thirty plus years of experience, I read through this set of reader’s comments and am struck by the ignorance of non-educators about what goes on in a class and school and how that ignorance in no way stops them from blathering on about what’s wrong in education. The sad fact is that there is no one problem. There are tons of problems. A short list would have to include some very sad facts. First up, if you want the best and the brightest teachers for your child, you’re going to have to pay for it. You mean raise taxes? Yup, it does. However, the corporations that will reap the benefits of a very well educated work force should be footing most of the bill and not making use of accounting teams to be sure to pay nothing at all. Currently, teacher’s rate at the very bottom of earners holding similar college degrees. Altruism is fine but it won’t staff classrooms with skilled teachers. Second, teachers who have been trained and have years of experience should be calling the shots about how things are done in the classroom. Really folks, would you go to your doctor with a serious illness knowing that what he or she is able to do is determined by some member of congress or other untrained person? Why are the very people who know what’s what in the trenches intentionally kept from making decisions? And let’s not forget high stakes testing. No other single action has done more to destroy education than our misguided belief that standardized testing does anything other than to line the pockets of publishing companies and provide sound bites for politicians hoping to score easy points at the expense of children and the people trying to educate them. I’ve given these tests for years and, aside from the fact that they are poorly constructed, have factual errors and eat up valuable learning time, they also do not do anything to help inform a teacher on how better to help their class. The tests are routinely given at the end of the school year, right as the children are leaving for a new grade and teacher. But more important is the fact that these tests are causing our classrooms to become test mills where kids focus, not on learning but on test taking. There is no time in those classrooms for individual differences. Children become treated like widgets coming off an assembly line. Instead of teachers being directed to tailor instruction to the different needs of different children, the children are expected to somehow change themselves so that they can fit the test. Bass akward thinking like that and you get what we now have. Oh, and while we’re talking about testing, I’d invite any parent, or representative who thinks testing is such hot stuff to come into a classroom while the kids are taking those tests. While a few children enjoy the opportunity to show off their knowledge, the vast majority of kids demonstrate a type of fear that does not in any way increase their love of learning or their curiosity about the world around them. It also leaves them with the attitude that testing is what learning is all about.

    Reply
    • JanR

      I cannot agree more with your comments. While you have presented information as to what today’s classrooms are like, unfortunately there are even more problems than what you’ve listed. These problems are causing tenured teachers to leave education in droves which further exacerbates the problems. And we need to remember the reason education exists – our children. If we can’t or don’t fix education, our future looks dim. That’s the bottom line.

      Reply
    • Barbara Kruk

      Although I am not s teacher I agree with you.To get better teachers folks have to be willing to pay them more…and the focus in the classroom should not be (to put it in easy to understand terms for others) “teaching to the test”. Well trained teachers KNOW how to teach and should not be made to prove it by having their students taking standardized tests to prove that they were taught well.

      Reply
    • Mr. P.

      Well stated. I retired rather than continue under a new administrator (first year who knew everything about everything, and anything you did to help students was not pedigogically justified by the common core standards). I am now enjoying stress-free days.

      Reply
      • Lisa Lopez

        Mr. P, you earned those stress free days, good for you! New administrators can be like new teachers, they’re overwhelmed with duties and responsibilities and not given enough time to prepare. My school does have a mentorship program for new Asst. Principals, but I don’t see where they get training on being an experienced teacher since many are only in the classroom for 3-6 years. When they become an AP, they forget all about what it was like being a teacher on the front lines.

        Reply
    • Lisa Lopez

      Will H. I agree with most of what you wrote, but especially with your comment about how we are expected to differentiate instruction. That word has been thrown around so much lately, without any useful training attached to it. How can we differentiate when we pretend they are all the same academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally? I do treat my students the same as much as possible, but have to differentiate on the fly and hope I am doing what is best for them and still insist they pass a standardized test.

      Reply
  7. Christopher F. Vota

    Great idea! Have each state pick its own politically-connected vendor for formulation/distribution/grading standardized tests. Then have each school board hire politically-consultants to formulate/distribute/evaluate ways to teach the test, in conjunction with creationist/tea-bagger types who just want everything in public schools based in some putrid form of Christianity. I suppose the politically-motivated way each state goes about meeting NCLB is about as standardized as we should expect!

    Reply
  8. Jim Kirk

    The reason for the testing mania is simple: It provides a simplified basis by which outsiders (politicians) can understand (or claim to understand) what is going on inside our educational system … without getting embroiled in a discussion of the actual workings of the system. “Bean counters*” can now replace our principals, superintendents, etc. In fact, this is exactly what the Broad institute is doing: training non educators to be principals and superintendents in a one year quickie course on how to use data to reform education. (*my apologies to statisticians and accountants, I use the term only to make a point)

    Read “the bait and switch of school reform” by David Sirota.

    Reply
  9. Octivia

    what is the problem? We actually let one person make the statement no child left behind, and what happens, a whole nation of school children from preschool – senior high is not only left behind, but is unable to “function” normally. I have never…students took their ACTs & SATs @ a local university, where it stated to WRITE your essay, this group began PRINTING…what happen to reading, WRITING, & math… then I hear that writing is not required after what 5th grade? excuse me, one must know how to SIGN their name, signatures are required on legal documents.
    if you have cut out writing, what is next? Reading or the math? technology is good, but sometimes you may have to use COMMON SENSE…oh maybe CONGRESS needs to come to the classroom and see what it is like with students…not everybody’s child is born with a silver spoon, or can get private education like their children. As a member of the public work force that CONGRESS & the STATE HOUSE is trying to destory…and my city taxes pay for the city school that my nieces and nephews attend, yes they attend public school, where it gives a very good education, providing that we have GOOD teachers who give a DAMN about the students, and is not just here for a paycheck…they need to do their job (educators) and maybe our children will not be left behind. Hey Congress & other public officials, get off your sorry behind and get things right or don’t run for re-election

    Reply
    • nANCY nOVELL

      Sorry, I think you are misinformed

      Also, i would think twice before criticizing educators who often get 15 min luches and deal with societal problems on a consistent basis and they most often do not wpeak up because they and we know that
      ALL KIDS ARE LEARNING AND ITS A LIFELONG PROCESS FOR ALL INVOLVED

      I WOULD ADD TO PREK MADATED STATES-MANDATE THAT FAMILIES ARE INVOLVED AND THAT THEY INDEED LEARN THE MATH AND READING STRATEGIES ON CURRICULUM NIGHTS AND THAT THIS KIND OF WHOLE EDUCATION BE EVALUATED

      TESTING IS AWFUL-DOES NOT REPRESENT-THROW IT

      IN MANY COUNTRIES SO CALLED RATED ABOVE US-DO NOT TEST NATIONALLY BUT DEVELOP THEIR OWN AS FINLAND AND NORWAY

      AND, NOW IN THIS CRAZY UNREGULATED FILTHY INTERNET SOCIETY, WE MAY NEED TO ALLOW KIDS TO OPT TO TRADE SCHOOLS AFTER 8TH GRADE AND GET SOMETHING VALUABLE OTHER THAN A VIOLENT LIFE-START EARLY; IF COLLEGE IS IN THE FUTURE, THAT TIME MAY BE LATER AFTER WORKING FOR AWHILE OTHER THAN AT MCDONALDS OR RETAIL

      Reply
      • chemkid

        Ditto,

        As educators we are facilitators. Teachers are only 1/3 the equation and we need the support of the parents as partners, their children our students, as well as state and federal support. In the state where I teach, 51% of my evaluation is determined by how well a student tests (student learning out comes). The state and school districts are pushing literacy. I am a science teacher and believe the literacy should apply in terms of multilevel analysis. Analyzing prompt to write a hypothesis, analyzing a research question as well as support such given a data table or a graph (data), evaluate data on a data table or line graph to support why such and such is a better choice with the data, analyzing possible errors which could have affected data outcomes, or analyze/evaluate experimental design and what changes could be made to ensure stronger experimental outcome (lower percent error). Furthermore, it irritates me when our country’s educational system is compared to other countries. One cannot compare apples and oranges and get a reliable outcome based upon the data available. There are so many variables which affect our students’ academic outcomes, but there is one variable which affects them all. Those individuals who make administrative decisions at the state and federal level need to read Margret Mead’s work on “Status Transitions and Discontinuities”. Margret Mead’s work stresses life transitions of our children and how the culture of a given society affects the “character and the outcomes” as a part of their maturing. What is happening to our society now? Upon observation one can see that our children spend more time on the internet, chat rooms, texting, face booking—electronics, electronics, and electronics. How is this helping our children socialize one on one? One could make a plausible postulation that our society is becoming more and more disconnected which is having a negative influence on our children’s socialization over their lives. Just food for thought. Can high stakes testing and its data truly reflect student growth over time? The data generated and being used is seated in a class, seated in a school district, and seated in a state which is Quazi-Research at best and one should question the reliability of the testing outcomes. For those who are making decisions at the state and federal level, they need to gain an understanding between the difference of causation and correlation, and its relationship to student testing outcomes. The students who come in to our classes are different from year to year, some of which have a great deal on their plates, and sometimes may have a very bad day—possibly the day they are taking a high stakes test. All and all, if the parents disconnect and choose not to engage in their child’s learning process, the educational outcome will be negative, and this is out of our control. On the other hand, if a parent as well as their child chooses to take advantage of the opportunities given, the outcome will be positive and very rewarding.

        Reply
    • Pam

      Students only learn how to write in cursive in 3rd grade if they are lucky. I wrote on the board in cursive at our middle school and the kids couldn’t read it. I have fairly good handwriting. It is not felt to be important anymore to learn to write in cursive or even print that well for that matter.

      Reply
  10. Swornia

    Invest properly into the lives of ALL children’s education and watch the decrease of crime in our neighborhood.

    Reply
  11. dwaine schmidt

    Education and appropriate funding should be a high priority for legislation.

    Reply
  12. Miriam Kohler

    NCLB and Race to the Top should be scrapped! Start all over again as both programs, with their emphasis on standardized test scores, pervert public education. Student minds are not widgets to be mass produced in assembly line fashion using a one size fits all model. But, as a teacher, I feel like this is what my job has become. I prepare students for standardized tests.

    Student test scores should not determine a teacher’s performance rating in a “tested subject.” (What happens to teachers in non-tested subjects?) Even where teachers do not cheat, instruction becomes about students mastering test taking strategies, and such mastery can often take up to eight months to produce. Sadly, each year, this cycle is repeated–because robots need reprogramming, and who wants to be the teacher whose students’ scores went down from the previous year?

    The current education reform models place much too much emphasis on teachers. Of course we want excellent teachers, and like every other profession, there needs to be accountability. But, who hires and supervises teachers? Hint: I have yet to meet a teacher who’s given tenure to a colleague.

    Reply
  13. Carolyn Lopez

    Money is being cut and requiremants are rising. I agree that our education needs to be of a high standard, but I also agree we need the money to do the job.

    Reply
  14. kathy

    What I like about NCLB:
    **states that have historically provided second rate education for minority students and have continued defacto segregation by making educational opportunities so poor that white families with money are left with no choice but to send their kids to private schools, are being forced to improve the public education they offer to their communities.
    **schools and systems which have become dysfunctional and complacent are being forced to clean house.
    What I don’t like about NCLB:
    **Testing is taking over and interferes with time to teach.
    **The people making decisions in Washington don’t understand what happens in schools and don’t understand (and therefore interfere with)the reforms that educational professionals are working to put in place that do actually make a difference in how and what kids learn.
    **There is no recognition or understanding how profoundly students’ functioning in schools can be determined by students’ lives outside of school. Someone needs to hold parents accountable for their (the parents’)behavior toward their kids, and someone needs to provide more resources to support struggling and dysfunctional families.

    Reply
    • Wilhelmina

      Well said Kathy!!

      Reply
    • Brenda

      You are absolutely correct, Kathy. Instead of taking the easier path of placing the lion’s share of the blame for our failing schools on our teachers; educators, parents, students, and legislators need to find realistic, effective solutions together.

      Reply
    • Vince J. Rosato

      Very well said, Kathy.

      Reply
  15. Karen

    PLEASE include targeted funding for school library staff, professional development. and keeping current with electronic and print resources, vital to student and teacher learning and teaching! The library is often a safe haven for students who need a welcoming “quiet” place to read, work, think and learn, at every level. Certificated and classified school library staff provide a wide variety of skilled instruction and support to meet the needs of their offer students, educators, families and communities. Through collaboration, professional library staff assist students in understanding and completing required activities and projects, and developing life-long learning and work skills.

    If ALL building and district administrators readily recognized, valued, supported, and adequately funded our school libraries these $$ may not need to be mandated, but that has not been my experience in my 33+ years of teaching, 23 years in an elementary school library!

    Reply
  16. Edward J. Del Castillo

    As a retired HS teacher, MS Vice Principal, Elementary School Principal, Director of special Education and a parent of two totally blind sons who have graduated from college, I empathize with all of your concerns. However, I do believe that we can influence all students if we first follow this rule: “We teach kids not subject matter. Subject matter is what we use to teach KIDS!” Find out how they each learn and help then succeed. I know it takes time and patience, but the results are worth it. I started teaching in 1970, and we required students to maintain a C average to be in courses like band, sports, vocational ed, art, etc. Motivation works. Get them back. Focus on Basic Math skills to Geometry for the masses and Communication skills. Offer classes for those more gifted in these areas, but to expect everyone to be scientists or engineers is absurd. I’ve worked with really brilliant people who can’t communicate what they do. That means businesses have to hire someone to translate what these Einsteins are working on. This is why everyone should focus on communication skills.

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  17. B Chenevert

    Please do something to fix the ESEA. Our children and students are be tested to death for no good reason. Although we hope all students will go to college, we know that this is not the case. We need to make sure we have vocational programs available for those who choose that path. We also need to make sure the arts are not left behind as they promote many if the creative and critical thinking skills we want our future adults to have. Rather than broadening education, we have been squeezing the life out if it, out of our teachers, and out if our students. Please breathe that life back into the ESEA.

    Reply
  18. Gail Van Dyke, parent and retired educator

    Since the passing of the NCLB law, most special education students were “left behind.” Vocational skill courses were eliminated from the curriculum to allow time for additional math and English classes to help these students pass the standardized tests. Now they are lost with no employable skills, nor do they prosper in a college setting. What a disaster. At least before NCLB, students gained skills to be employed, have a Chevy, and a place to live. What does their future hold now? Welfare?

    Reply
  19. Linda Strauss

    Funding for public education and true concern for its success will never happen. The politicians who control education do not respect teachers, do not understand education, and almost never have children being educated in public schools.

    Reply
    • Gene in L.A.

      Then we need to change their minds for them, don’t we? If we don’t who will?

      Reply
  20. Barbara Lucas

    Until the Congress starts to realize that what they do does have an effect on the quality and moral of public schools, then we will continue to languish. They do not respect us as professionals and diminish our rights to use our strengths to teach. I have appreciated the research on best teaching practices and reading, and been successful in implementing it. I have gone from having the right to use my personal expertise with my class to cookie cutter education. I do not agree with vouchers for private and charter schools especially when the government does not make them follow the same rules as their own public schools. I am tired of being devalued by Congress and the press. I am tired of implementing trickle down ideas that take time away from the precious moments of quality instruction. Standardized testing should be a requirement for Congress to take each year before they work on education bills so they know what money they throw out there for testing companies.

    Reply
  21. Sharon S

    I have read through all the heartfelt and honorable comments already listed above and have agreed with everyone and what they had to share. To begin let me just say, “I LOVE TEAHCING” but, I can’t help but feel discouraged by those who think educators have it sooo easy and don’t even work 12 months of the year and make sooo much money. Believe me I am an educator for 12 months of the year, like many others educators have pointed out in their comments. And even if I leave the school at 3:00 pm, I have lesson plans to write and tests to grade. When I grade math tests I don’t just mark the answers right or wrong, I look at how the student solved the problem and where they went wrong in order to be able to remediate that wrong answer with the student so they learn from their mistake. I am always thinking of new ways to reach students and help them to learn. I see something in a store and my creative brain starts to think about how I can apply it to helping my students learn a particular skill; maybe if I buy this I can help my students to understand that Science concept better; or I am going to save the bottle caps from the gallon and half-gallon milk cartons and write numbers on them to use as a manipulative on the place value math mats I made to help them see the difference between the thousands and millions period. I could probably purchase something in a teacher/learning store but I would be spending my own money as I don’t get a budget to purchase those kinds of materials. Those creative methods require that I make these tools for use in my classroom and that can take several hours at home preparing these creative tools.

    Not only do I work hard but I spend my own money on supplies for my students and my school. I buy school supplies for my students and often take advantage of the great deals that are offered during the summer sales, in order to give students whose parents cannot afford the notebook or tools for school. This year retail stores have already started selling the school supplies for the 2013-14 school year.

    I resent that standardized testing results are becoming a guide to judge the teacher’s skills of educating their students. And I have pointed out before in other public forums…
    >WE DO NOT GO HOME WITH THESE STUDENTS
    >WE ARE NOT THEIR PARENTS.
    >WE CAN MAKE EVERY POSSIBLE ATTEMPT TO MOTIVATE THEM BUT WE
    CANNOT MAKE THEM MOTIVATED, THAT HAS TO COME FROM WITHIN THEM.
    >WE DON’T RANDOMLY GIVE THEM GRADES, THEY HAVE TO EARN THEM.
    >WE CANNOT MAKE THEM DO SOMETHING THEY DON’T WANT TO DO.

    The other issue I have tried to grapple with is how much is squeezed into our curriculum each year…we are currently still trying to fit the same subject areas/curriculum that we learned in school and have continued to add additional subject matter for teachers to teach in the same amount of time in the school day (8:30 am-3:00 pm). When I started teaching (in the 1990s) we had to teach…Mathematics, Reading, English/Lang. Arts, Writing, Penmanship, Social Studies, and Science. Now add to that…CHARACTER EDUCATION and COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY (in our district each child has to go on the computer daily for an additional lesson on the newest online reading program). And don’t forget they go for 35 minute specials weekly such as Art, Music, Physical Education, Foreign Language, and Media Center (previously known as the Library).

    How many are aware of the challenge of trying to differentiate instruction in an elementary class of students of anywhere from 20-30 students in grades K-5th and from ages of 5-11 years old. Imagine a 5th grade class of students with reading levels ranging from 2nd to 5th grade in one room with one teacher trying to teach a chapter in Social Studies from the Revolutionary War! Be aware that in that one class there are students with additional issues of ADD/ADHD students or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or a Specific Learning Disability. Try and hold their attention for 25-30 minutes for the lesson, try to keep them on task, try to avoid disrupting the lesson because one of them needs to go to the bathroom and then needs to be instructed individually when they come back because they missed some of the lesson.
    Why should educators be evaluated based on students progress if that student does not comply by the rules and guidelines of our schools? That’s unfair! I challenge anyone to come and spend time in today’s classrooms and see what a challenge it is to make every attempt possible to reach the children and educate them for this ever changing, evolving world of the future. Could anyone do it if you didn’t love teaching? I love teaching and I get up every day knowing I will be challenged, discouraged, and frustrated but I get out there because I know I can make a difference in the life of a child that needs to learn to be able to grow up and become a productive adult in our society.

    And sometimes the biggest burn comes from the politicians that don’t have any idea what it’s like being an educator but somewhere along the way they got an education because of the dedication of women and men who walk into classrooms every day to teach children/young adults!

    I have a book titled, “How Do I Stand in Your Shoes?” by Susan DeBell that I use at school for elementary school children to understand that we cannot know what it is like to do a job if we have never done it ourselves. So I recommend that everyone think about what it is like to “walk in someone else’s shoes before judging what my passion for teaching really is all about.”

    Thanks to my parents and all the educators that helped me reached my full potential and become a teacher myself in order to be able to say it is my job to listen to children, help children to understand how to solve math problems, how to read and make sense of a story, how to write a composition. And to be able to say I make a difference in the life of a child every day!

    Sharon

    Reply
    • teresa

      Amen! My new favorite quote is “Those who can teach. Those who can’t tell teachers how to teach.”

      After 27 years of teaching preschool, mostly in public schools, I am becoming so frustrated and discouraged that I am thinking of getting out. My state is making us jump through silly hoops to get the annual state grant that funds my classroom.

      Making me do hundreds of hours of pointless paper work that has no impact whatsoever on my teaching. This is to “enhance quality.” They send me a state-funded (taxpayer money) “coach” to help me meet their requirements of unnecessary paperwork. She is wonderful, but I don’t need her help. Just think – her salary could pay for one public school preschool teacher!

      They are trying everything to improve quality, but the funds (our taxes) are misused. They should focus on universal public school preschools staffed by qualified teachers just like the other grades. Instead we have uneven, inconsistent programs. Range of quality. “Teachers” with a range of training, from very little to M.Ed.’s.
      Every child deserves a high quality preschool experience (at age 4 at least. It starts at age 3 in England, France, etc.!) The decision makers don’t understand the positive impact investing in preschool would have. They don’t understand the strong oral language base that is necessary to learn to read later. I know kindergarten teachers being told to start their “reading groups” the second week of school. Their students don’t even SPEAK English yet! PAY NOW OR PAY LATER.

      Reply
    • Claudia

      Well stated!!!!!!! kudos to you.

      Reply
    • chemkid

      OMG!!!

      Thank you Sharon for making this stand. I am sooooooo tired of other individuals who judge what I do, even at social gatherings. Such an incident occurred at a religious coming of age, and the statement made in conversation was “You are just a Teacher, you only work 9 months a year and shouldn’t you take less for your salary”. This statement came from an engineer and he has absolutely no clue as to what I do. I truly love teaching, but the frustration and social stigma attached can be overwhelming. I conversationally bantered with this engineering individual and ended the conversation with “you need to walk in my shoes” before you place judgment upon teachers. The same individual came into my home during another gathering and observed a plaque for an honors society on a shelf. Now plaque was displayed with honor because my students had voted/inducted me into honors society. This individual asked with a very perplexed look upon his face, you are a member of an honors society? In reply my response was yes, but actually I was a member of 4 honors societies. The individual responded even more confused, which ones and he was informed what they were. This individual then asked what my GPA was for my different degrees, and he was informed which facilitated an even more confused look. This engineering individual was informed that even “just a teacher” can graduate summa cum laude as well as academically excel. The phrase “just a teacher” facilitates the upwelling of frustration and anger that one can be judged in this manner. What we do is truly important, but in our society this importance is questioned. Bravo Sharon.

      Reply
    • Rachel Stafford

      Very well said, Sharon S.!! Thank you!!

      Reply
    • JanR

      Bravo! Well said. Your frustration comes through what you write. As a 27 year veteran teacher I left education because I could no longer take the politics within the school district. I had taught special education and been the Director of Special Education for those 27 years, yet was treated as if I knew nothing by the administration. So add politics to the laundry list of problems in education. Has anyone ever noticed how the number of administrators continue to rise? Every time a new program is announced, more administrators are added but the same (or fewer) teachers are expected to handle the added requirements.

      Reply
  22. Diane Wasky

    Everyone who has commented before me has said it all. Bottom line…give respect to education and educators. After all, where would all those lucratively paid politicians be without it?

    Reply
    • JanR

      AMEN!!

      Reply
  23. Mana

    While NCLB had good intentions, it was implemented and targeted the wrong group. It single handedly end all creative education and developing the WHOLE child. Currently at my school, there is NO ART, MUSIC, or any other creative outlet for the students. Who has time? Focus has been on high stakes tests. Pressure has been put immensely on teachers to have students pass test or look for a new job. Stress levels for all high stake test taking grade level educators has increased. Parents are not held accountable for the lack of interest in their own child’s education. Affluent areas continue to out perform low income areas and sanctions continued to be place on low income (title one) schools. How is this fair? Stability remains for most high income schools, but title one schools and students continue to remain unstable because educator transfer out of the area or school due to the sanctions placed. Who wants to work in a school where their career is constantly in jeopardy? To solve the education gap, aside from teacher education and advancement, we need to focus on parents in low income areas. Parent who may know have the knowledge it takes to value education. It’s difficult to stress the importance of education to a 7 year old when the parents either don’t care or can’t help. Let’s look at a way to start reform there first and then plan further on.

    Reply
  24. Roberta

    As an educator for nearly 34 years, I have seen the dumbing down of textbooks, less creativity in the classroom due to focus on high stakes tests, as well as a demise of respect for educators. Congress needs to take the lead to assure that students’ needs are met with all programs in place, including the arts and libraries. Proof has shown that money taken from the public schools to endorse private entities has NOT worked. Focus on our children, our future, and step up to the responsibilities entrusted to you as lawmakers.

    Reply
  25. Miriam

    To fund education in a fair way we have to think outside the box. Local funding uses the mil rate to determine property tax. A person owning a $1,000,000 home in an affluent town may pay only $600 a month because of a low mil rate. A person in a struggling city could pay $1800 a month on a $400,000 home because of a much higher mil rate. Regarding education, which is where 75% to 85% of property taxes are spent for most towns, a state should have one mil rate for everybody. The town pays the percentage they historically have spent on education into one statewide education fund retaining the other 15%-25% of the money for police/fire/ sanitation and so on. Each town then receives the same dollar amount per student from the statewide fund for education. In my state we have towns with mil rates as low as 10.389 for millionairres and as high as 74.29 for the poverty stricken (who might have a better chance at lower middle class without the oppressive tax burden). By determining the required or desired expenditure per student, say $10,000 the universal mil rate could be determined. It would not be as low as 10.389 but neither would it be as high as 74.29, I am sure. I would be interested in a response by anyone addressing the financial advantages or disadvantages of this proposal.

    Reply
    • teresa

      Thank you for explaining this. It is the crux of the problem and the source of the solution.

      In England, France and other countries, this is not the case. Every thing is funded and controlled nationally. Teachers are paid the same salary no matter where they teach. The same amount is spent per child across the board. Makes a lot more sense. The American Dream – yeah right.

      Reply
    • Claudia

      It could all be settled.. … If the US would give each Legalized American $1 million dollars each year it would = 313.9 million in the US today across the board> It would be cheaper than most Gov. budgets out there.

      Each American can then pay there fair share of taxes, mil’s and whatever and still have plenty of money to live on and keep the economy flowing. And that’s not including the working income of those who are in the working forces. Then, maybe those people could get a tax break because they do work and contribute to the whole.

      For those who are not working.. they would only get $500K. If they go to work they would get more. What and insentive!

      Everyone has been educated by a teacher.

      Congressmen? How did you learn how to read, write, communicate effectively, solve math/science problems, learn about history, sing, dance, draw or play a sport.

      A teacher/coach in your life.. I’m sure.

      There is that small percent who were home schooled. But even those indviduals had someone TEACHING them.

      Our world is at a cross road. We will either excel and move ahead or if it goes the way ‘they’ are thinking… we will plummit to new low depths and no longer be the LEADER of ‘nations’ we will be the ones floundering and trying to catch up as we fall futher behind in the educational ranks.

      Education does need reform but this

      God help us!

      Reply
  26. JM

    Education is for all people, not just the privilaiged, well behaved, smart students. Stop treating our kids like soldiers. All schools need to be given an opertunity to share with the local and federal government what is needed to educate our students. Schools, educators and students need to be priority when discussing budgets.
    I work year round with special education. I have been working for 28 years in the same school. My take home pay is $635.by-weekly. I qualify for food stamps. On the weekends I help take care of special needs students. I have a family of my own but I believe in sharing what I have. Please stop taking away the little I have so I can keep on helping others. How can you expect teachers to pay for their own educaction if you don’t pay them when they become a teacher?

    Reply
  27. Patricia

    Providing a free and public education has always been, as far as I can tell, the backbone to the young becoming productive and successful in society. I read an earlier posting that as an educator, please take your job seriously. I certainly take my job seriously putting in 50-60 hours per week during the school year. During the summer, I continue to take part in training opportunities, reorganizing my classroom, and looking for new materials to add to the classroom for the upcoming year.

    What I don’t understand is why educators are paid so little and those who are in government, performers, actors, and various sports players make ridiculously and astounding amounts of money. All of these people would not have been able to do so without being provided a good education. I bet I put more money back into my profession than some of those highly paid people! Before entering into education, other educators said that you need to love the profession because you certainly won’t make much money. I am wholeheartedly living that advice as a special education teacher working with students with behavioral issues.

    Reply
  28. Sally Fancher

    After twenty-five yearS in public education, and after raising two honor students, I can tell you what the schools need, and it is relatively free.
    Make attendance a required part of the grade. @15% for each high school class. Then, eliminate the attendance requirement for students in high school.
    The kids who show-up will not be hindered by the trouble-makers and behavior problems. Send home the disruptive students and tell the parents that they can come back when they behave. Attendance isn’t required, but they can’t pass if they are home. No more home tutors for behavior problems, only students with medical issues. The teachers will not spend their days dealing with problems, but with extra attention being given to the students who truly want to succeed.

    Reply
    • Debbie Bacon

      With 13 years of teaching in a school that has gone from 1700 students to 800 students because of open enrollment, free online charter schools, (however unsuccessful they may be), and an adding neighborhood, I can see where requiring enrollment and disallowing attendance from affecting one’s grade are both an annoyance at best and detrimental to a successful learning environment in full honesty. While there are laws that guarantee an environment conducive to learning which include removing “bad apples” from the classroom, actually utilizing those laws is a very lengthy process. The classroom must document 3 methods of classroom management, calling home on each, before writing an administrative referral. That process be repeated fully three times before the administrator can begin paperwork for “habitually disruptive behavior”. The student is then put on a behavior plan and is given two more rounds before the school can begin the process for removing the student from their enrollment, but only for 1 semester, during which time the school district must pay for the child to attend elsewhere.
      Given that these are almost always kids who would rather not attend, but are court ordered to do so anyway, I say let them stay home. They aren’t learning at school as it is already.
      We are not currently allowed to attach attendance to core subject grades, but we can for electives. Kids attend electives better and get better grades. That seems like a no-brainer to me!
      Also, having a statewide property tax, to fund schools would do a lot to normalize funding within a given state. Sure, the “richer” districts would initially take a hit, myself included, but if it means that the smaller districts would have a fighting chance to catch up to our technology, those kids deserve it! It seems to me that would be obvious in following our country’s “equal access to free quality public education” that sets us apart from other countries.

      Reply
    • Sandi

      I have never thought about your attendance policy for high school. I have been a high school principal, and actually like your idea! Good for you. Have you seen this used anywhere?

      Reply
      • Jane

        I was fortunate enough to teach in an alternative school where kids were held accountable. Many had dropped out from the local high school, which had 12 week sessions (trimesters). The Place (name of school) had minimesters of 6 weeks, which worked out the same credit-wise. We held the kids accountable to attend 80% of the time and do 100% of the work, or we would not register them again. We had a 98% attendance rate and about 95% passing classes by the end of the minimester. Yakima (WA) had another alternative school which wasn’t as strict. We’d let the kids know if they didn’t pass a certain number of classes here, we would refer them to the other school because this was obviously not working for them. We also had small classes and constant family contact. If students weren’t in class with 15 minutes of the first period starting, we’d call home. It worked greak until administrators “fixed” it and broke it…..

        Reply
  29. Kathleen McMahon

    I vote in every election, and I am paying attention! FIX THIS LAW.

    Reply
  30. Christa Gimbel

    During my library working days, my school library received some of the elementary and secondary act money. If we had not, the library would not have been able to support school curriculum. If a school library can’t contribute to the educational process and stay current, most schools would have no place for a child to do independent learning and study and have current technology and materials to use. Please sustain this money so this can continue.

    Just think what your educational process would have been like if you had not had a good library to rely on to support it!

    Reply
    • Jane

      Have you read Krashen’s, Smith’s, & Constantino’s “Difference in Print Environment for children in Beverly Hill, Compton and Watts” Emergency Librarian 24:4 – a few years ago – the dste isn’t on my copy.Age appropriate books in home: BH – 199.2; W 0.4; C 2.67 classroom libraries: BH 392.4; W 53.8; C 47.3.

      Labraries AND LIBRARIANS are SOOOOO important for children and schools!!!

      Reply
  31. mdrp11

    Please end the unfunded mandates! If the new ESEA requires something, it should come with full funding. The drain on district general fund dollars is eating up teacher salary increases and money to help defray the ever-rising cost of health care. If we don’t start paying teachers what they are worth, comparable with those in industry with post graduate educations, we’ll never attract enough new teachers to fill the jobs vacated by those of us who are retiring in the next five to ten years.

    Stop the unfunded mandates. Congress, teachers know you get what you pay for. If you want it, you must fund it.

    Reply
  32. bob22

    Please restore the money that the Sequester cut! Vermont NEEDS its reading specialist teachers badly.
    We’ve already been told that next year our Consolidated Federal Grant budget will not be able to support all our jobs. I live in a district that really needs reading teachers. We stand to lose Reading Recovery, which is a powerful and proven first grade program for our neediest students. Without it, our scores WILL drop, probably quite a bit. Some students just NEED 1 on 1 and small group individualized learning in order to get reading and writing underway and have the opportunity to catch up with their peers. This is an important support which is presently being eroded thanks to the Sequester. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Leeanne Brookfield

      I am a Reading Recovery teacher in Michigan and also fully understand the importance of early intensive instruction for the struggling reader. Keep speaking up and talking about how critical reading intervention is for all students. Read the article posted JUne 19,2013 in the nea site Kids Not Cuts regarding this very thing. I’m the Michigan teacher in the article. Kids Not Cuts, Michigan,sequestration, title 1 is the tag.
      We have to keep fighting for our students and for education and we have to be the leaders to protect Reading Recovery. People just don’t understand how important it is.

      Reply
    • Firstgrademonkey

      During the last five years, my district has lost over 8 million dollars in funding. My school lost 200,000 dollars this year due to sequestration. This means that we lost all of our title one tutors. These tutors helped provide individual and small group instruction in reading and math. This will affect our students education. Not only will their scores suffer, but for children who are struggling, there will be long term consequences.

      Reply
  33. Shelley

    I would also like to see REAL early intervention for those with learning differences, rather than waiting for the student to fail 2 grades before real intervention happens.

    Reply
  34. Patrick Ferguson

    As a teacher it is disheartening to see education budgets continually cut as we pump increasingly more money into wars we cannot and appear not willing to win, in countries that don’t want us there all while Congress is playing chicken with each other using student loan interest rates as a bargaining chip. Add to this the increasing regulations and restrictions that boggle the mind and can’t effectively be enforced because there isn’t the funding to implement the laws that are being passed. I could go on but I have to start getting ready for the next school year.

    Reply
  35. Donna Kain

    As an educator, parent, grandparent, I really hope for some positive developments in education with this reauthorization. As a teacher of middle school remedial readers I am exposed every day to what this law is doing to my students. Expecting students who are several years behind in reading to pass that SOL test that some grade level readers will not pass, is demoralizing for them. I cried when a student who worked as hard as he could work found out he had failed the test. He put his head down and said, “I will never amount to anything.” Is this the message we want to give our future generation? If the idea is to make them try harder then it is not working. What they are doing is hating school and giving up. And the idea of vouchers makes no sense to me. I have a nephew who attended a wonderful charter school in NC and he got a well-rounded education with many opportunities that public school students did not have. Yes, his name was chosen by lottery but he then had to submit an essay to see if he was up to the rigor. The ones who were not, but were admitted, dropped out by Dec. They did not have state mandated testing to deal with such as the public schools do. How is it fair to use taxpayer money to support this when clearly only the cream of the crop (in this case) are getting to attend.

    Please consider these issues and the others concerning the future of our students carefully. There is a lot at stake.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  36. Meg Sundberg

    I do my part to educate the future of this country. I put in 60+ hour weeks planning and working with our children. I work hard and take my job seriously. Teaching is an important vocation and the education of our children is our future.

    Please take your job seriously and do the right thing. Make sure that the education of our children is protected. My goal as an educator is the education of each of my students. Your goal should be to allow me to do my job. Don’t let our nation’s future continue to slide because we can’t keep up with the rest of the world.

    Thank you for all of the work that you do.

    Reply
  37. William Twiddy

    The Nation NEEDS, REQUIRES public education. In order for the system to work teachers don’t need pithy non-sereous compliments , teachers need to be paid,well. Further, much more input at state and national levels need to come from teachers, not so much who have not tought.

    Reply
  38. Emily Taylor

    I am a teacher and parent. In my nine years as an educator I have seen how high stakes tests have taken time and energy away from teaching critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and creating innovative, knowledgable thinkers. Eight-year-olds and other students do not need the stress of these tests. They are expensive and do not serve a valuable purpose. I have also been on a salary freeze as funds have been slowly and quickly shrinking for school funding. I have seen class size increases and materials and resources decreasing. This CANNOT continue. We need to live in a country of educated citizens who are ready to face the challenges of the future and provide contributions to this world. This can only happen when this country supports our schools, teachers, students, and families. It is imperative for us all. Privatizing education and using a voucher system would be devastating and only make educational inequality much worse. Let’s strengthen our public schools!!! Thank you,
    Emily Taylor
    Teacher, Parent, Citizen who Cares

    Reply
  39. neeny tyo

    Since you listen to money only, listen to this. If you ever make it unmandated, I would not be able to share my income with kids, which I do, which disperses money into the economy. My pension will be given to my own kids all the time to help them, and into the economy it goes. If you make it so an art teacher cant’ work, you are sentencing them to be financially carried by the government. So, which will it be, money into the economy benefitting all? Or you carrying me.

    Reply

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