What dead body? The one an Oakland, CA, elementary student found in her schoolyard a couple of months ago.
That's part of the reality of urban education that Oakland resident Heather Gehlert writes about before urging readers to sign the petition urging Congress not to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. NCLB is what results, she writes, when well-meaning legislators make policy "...based on recommendations from advisers who must be out of touch with real classroom experiences... ."
Here's a sample of some of those "real classroom experiences":
"The books are so old they're rotting. As it is, you only have 20 books for the 35 students in your class, and making copies is out of the question because you used up your 3,000-page-per-year copying budget in October. The first 600 copies went toward your four-page syllabus, and last month you shelled out $200 of your own dollars for copies, but you can't keep that up on a teacher's salary.
"You shake your head and try to hide your frustration from your students. They have so many other problems, which you know from reading their weekly journal assignments. Javion is working two after-school jobs to help his single mom, Elise is hoping her older brother will get out of prison this year, and Claudia watches her father beat her mother almost every night, wondering when she will be next."
As a former teacher of teenagers, and then 'tweenagers', I'd say, yeah, that sounds about right.
And then there's the latest Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll (via Jim Horn's Schools Matter blog) which shows that the public has little confidence in the test-based standards of NCLB. For example,
- 69% say that a "single test" doesn't provide a "fair picture" of how well a school is doing.
- 81% say that English and math tests are not sufficient to gauge student academic progress.
- 78% are concerned that the exclusive emphasis on literacy and numeracy will harm education in the arts, music, and history.
With those numbers, there should be many more than the current 20,000 signatures on the NCLB petiton.
So what are YOU waiting for? Sign the petition! And read Heather Gehlert's remarkable and eye-opening article.