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Teachers: What changes would you like to see in the new, reauthorized version of ESEA?

Comments: 358

Why not fund public schools adequately first? That way, maybe all kids will have the resources they need to succeed academically (at least in the school setting). Instead of punishing schools that serve the most economically disadvantaged children by withholding funds and closing them down or firing the teachers, why not provide them with enough money in the first place to enable teachers to teach withadequate resources? Why not fund states equitably instead of forcing states to apply for competitive grants?

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Michelle La Voie
Salamanca Teachers Association
Franklinville, NY

That's Fine if you want to hold teachers accountable, but make sure I have every available resource necessary to get every student to succeed! You would not put a surgeon in an operating room with no tools and expect him/her to fix the patient! IT'S THE SAME CONCEPT! Do NOT continue to put me in the classroom without the proper tools to educate!

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Michelle Lopez
CTU-279
Cleveland, OH

The emphasis should be on collaboration, not competition. When I think of 'Race to the Top,' I picture us clawing our way to the top, pushing one another down in the process. Partnership and collaboration will enable each of us to do our best. 'No Child Left Behind' had unrealistic goals and punative outcomes. Our special education pupils, by definition, will be performing below grade level. Our Limited English Proficient would not be expected to be proficient in English. We have a common goal of high achievement among our pupils. All of us, parents, pupils, teachers, and administrators, need to work together for maximum success.

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Judith Newkirk
abcft local 2317
Long Beach, CA

Teachers should not be left alone to hold the burden for the total success of student achievement. Parents, communities, school districts, administrators, teachers and the individual student are all integral participants in and have an effect on the final outcome. All should share the burden equally. I believe progress should be expected of all children, but to say that it has to be a certain amount yearly is unrealistic. Humans learn and develop differently from one another and at different rates. I'm very disappointed that the failures and unrealistic expectations of NCLB will continue in the Obama Administration.

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Diane Hines
HDFT
Windsor, NH

Evaluation of student progress through one standardized test is inappropriate and does not give a clear picture of a student's abilities. It creates a "teaching to the test" mentality. The focus should also be on progress, not a set score for proficiency, as schools in low income, diverse areas have been unfairly punished while schools in affluent areas have been able to be complacent about student learning, since these students have much home support for school success. I think the focus on making sure every child is successful and not "falling through the cracks" has been a positive outcome of the legislation.

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Julie Ray
Cape Girardeau, MO

I think there are many good ideas. Unions shouldn't fight accountability via testing. They should be part of the process for how to determine effectiveness fairly. If unions fight this, they will lose. I haven't heard anything about what part of this equation is student motivation and parental involvement. It's part of the picture and we need to air it out, not as finger-pointing, but it takes a strong teacher, a strong administration, great, research-based programs, and parental and student involvement to educate people. March 6 article in the Magazine of the New York Times really hit on 2 important issues tied to this. Check it out.

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Diane Lewis
Chgo Teacher's Union
Snata Fe, NM

As an elementary school nurse (R.N.) and long concerned about the health of our children (childhood obesity, lack of exercise, etc.), I would like to see comprehensive health education a part of the required curriculum. For the past several years in our district, health education has been disposed of due to the struggle to attain test scores for NCLB. We have many overweight children among a population of parents who know little about health. Further these children spend many hours in front of TV or the computer eating cheap unhealthy snacks.

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Elizabeth Hunter
Phoenix, AZ

It is a wonderful concept to educate all students equally; however, not all students are capable of mastering the academics that would send them on to higher education. Some may even prefer the time-honored skill of working with their hands. Therefore, we must prepare them for a lifelong career and properly educate them in their chosen vocation, as they do in Europe. This need can be met by re-introducing vocational skills such as auto mechanics, carpentry, electronics, etc. There is a great need for these skilled technicians and we must instill pride in these youngsters by giving them the tools to succeed.

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Suzanne germaine
FFT1889
Farmingdale, NY

Just remember that while some testing is necessary, most of us remember more creative and inspiring experiences even more than we remember test scores. Here's an example: I do not remember what grade I got on any test in third grade, but I do remember that we painted a map of our county on the classroom floor. I can picture it clearly in my mind.

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Roslyn Raney
San Mateo Community College District AFT Affiliate
Menlo Park, CA

Eliminate the need for all subgroups to rise every year. Allow schools to set goals for growth each year. Require the use of multiple measures. Correct the exclusive emphasis on English and Math so that other subjects and skills are encouraged. Ensure funding flows to the neediest schools. Take steps to address inequities in local funding. Allow struggling schools to recover from within by tapping and developing teacher leadership.

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Anthony Cody
Oakland, CA

Science is being left behind-truly a danger to our national security, I believe. Statistically significant improvement should be the metric, not an arbitrary percentage who test "proficient". For instance, if you move scores from the bottom to the top of the basic range, that is a pretty big increase. It doesn't count under NCLB.

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Cathy White
KCFT Local 691
Kansas City, MO

No Child Left Behind has virtually ensured that many children are left behind. It fails to acknowledge a student's progress at his own level, or a school's progress in improving its students' achievement unless all subcategories of students show "Adequate Yearly Progress" on state standardized assessments. Students who struggle to read well or write coherently are forced to take these tests with minimal modifications, and the entire school is judged by their failure. We need to recognize the areas where schools are showing progress, not cripple them with punitive threats and actions because of the failure a few.

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David Burks
Fayette County Federation of Teachers
Connersville, IN

Teachers must be partners in school reform. That means they should be trusted as professionals, not blamed when a school in a poor district does not meet expectations. I have been teaching for 30 years, and I have never seen so much antagonism and distrust of teachers. A barrage of tests increases costs in a way that does not benefit children. Education begins in the home, yet professionals are expected to compensate for poor parenting in ways that are unrealistic. Give teachers more support, not more tests to administer. It takes a few minutes for a good teacher to discern whether or not a child can read. I am a teacher, not a tester.

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Gladys Sedota
Brocton
Fredonia, NY

If evaluations are to be based on students' test scores, is anyone considering the following? Back in 1990-1992 I noted that I had the same number of students in June that I did in September (125), but 50 percent of them were different students. I was a high school English teacher in Salem, MA. I brought this to the attention of administrators, but no one was interested. Student mobility in and out of communities as well as moves due to scheduling problems, life situations, or whatever. There may be less of that in well-heeled communities, but teachers have no control over this.

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Marie Barry
Beveerly, MA

One of the worst things about NCLB is how much emphasis is placed on testing. I go to high school at the moment and it’s just ridiculous because so much pressure is put on the teacher to go through everything that will be on the tests. They have to rush through everything. They can't ever take their time with a certain subject or chapter that, say, the class finds interesting or is struggling with. To me, that is just harming the education we receive because we're not really getting the best. We're just getting little bits of information from here and there.

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Eduardo Flores
Wichita, KS

Make distinctions between chronically underachieving schools and those which miss one or two categories out of 18 or more. Individual schools should not be penalized if the district as a whole "fails." Schools in "high-standard states" should not be labeled as failing, when schools in "low-standard states" skate by. Real efforts to help, with real funding attached, must precede "reconstitution," charters, and other punitive measures. Any year in which class size increases significantly due to funding shortfalls should not be counted as a "failing" year. That's enough for now.

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Brad Jones
United Teachers Los Angeles
Santa Monica, CA

Low-performing schools come under such incredible scrutiny. However, the teachers and staff of such schools are sometimes the hardest-working, most creative in a district. They get little or no credit for what they do! A change needs to be made that reflects the efforts of the dedicated teachers and staff members at low-performing schools. Instead of a blanket qualifier for AYP, perhaps there needs to be recognition of any improvements, regardless how small. We all work hard ... we all deserve credit, including the students.

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Gregory Merritt
AFT-Wood County
Parkersburg, WV

English language learners require 4-9 years to achieve academic proficency, especially those who are refugees, migrant students, or come from low-literacy regions. Requiring them to pass all exams before they are proficient does not accurately reflect their abilities, teacher instruction or program quality. It shows unfair judgment and no understanding of second language acquisition.

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S Eghigian
Utica
Marcy, NY

I agree with districts having standards for teacher quality and testing that indicates growth for each student. But let the local districts decide what their school district needs to be successful; far-reaching legislation tends to be a "one size fits all" approach with improvement models that don't really apply. I feel like we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater in trying to align with the current NCLB guidelines. In Minnesota, we like to work within our own community with our district staff to diagnose problems and find solutions that fit us, not an approach that fits a metro school where there are different needs.

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Carrie Robatcek
Education Minnesota - Rocori
Cold Spring, MN

No Child Left Behind has not and will not work because the parents haven't been brought into the circle. They must be held accountable for their children’s education, or taxpayers ultimately pay a lot of money for nothing.

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HERBERT BACON
CEDAR HILL, TX

Unrealistic measures do not take into consideration individual growth rates or other factors such as language acquisition. All children are expected to attain the same standards at the same age which is totally unrealistic. Children have growth spurts from infancy on. Not all children have the same home life, parents, experiences etc. All of these things impact learning. Teachers should be held accountable for making a difference in each child they teach but growth should be measured according to the child's entry and exit according to the time the teacher has the student. ESL students should be given ample time to learn academic language.

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Donna Bush
LFT 1614
Madison Heights, MI

Whatever is done, it would be nice to have funding attached to the requirements. It is very difficult to provide children with current information and instruction in the newest methods of communication and learning when the technology is not available. Our school libraries, which used to have decent budgets and could buy some extras, have not even had a budget for three years running. We have no databases, no periodicals, no book budget, and no money for supplies. Multiply this by every classroom teacher and librarian in the same predicament. Why are our children behind? They come that way and we are prevented from helping them succeed.

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Judi Nador
AFT Local 420
Dittmer, MO

Under the current ESEA, all the accountability is on the teachers and the school, rather than on the students. How about mandatory Saturday or evening classes for those who are failing? How about academic in-school and out-of-school suspensions, but with individualized and personal instruction until goals are met. Of course, the state and feds would have to come up with the money. If they don't, it's a reason to excuse that school from ESEA obligations. Too much testing and preparing for test anyway.

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Dennis Gorecki
Southwest Suburban Fed of Teachers
Orland Park, IL

Whatever is done, there should be funding attached to the requirements. It is very difficult to provide children with current information and instruction in the newest methods of communication and learning when the technology is not available. Our school libraries which used to have decent budgets and could buy some extras have not even had a budget for 3 years running. We have no databases, no periodicals, no book budget, and no money for supplies. Multiply this by every classroom teacher and librarian in the same predicament. Why are our children behind? They come that way and we are prevented from helping them succeed.

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Judi Nador
AFT Local 420
St. Louis, MO

I have been at the same at-risk high school teaching math for 11 years now. The training I have received has helped me some; but what concerns me is that, for the last six or more years, the students have been arriving on our campus less and less prepared. It is as if the district is trying to fix everything at the high school level. My plan now is to find a job at a better high school (I'll get paid the same from what I hear). I don't want to be used as a scapegoat, and after what happened in Rhode Island and our President's response to that situation, I am more determined than ever to leave this and all at-risk schools.

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Jonathan Garrison
Arlington, TX

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