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

Comments: 358

Get rid of the NCLB, it is a white elephant and a failure. Teachers do know what they are doing, believe it or not, we do not need the No Child Left Behind Act, we need support from our president.Unlike the Rhode Island incident. As educated professionals we do know how to teach. We do not need politicians telling us how to do our jobs. Do not revise it, it is just a money maker for the publication companies that publish the tests and the results. Get rid of it. Support teachers and believe in their knowledge.

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Kathleen McDonald
HFCC Local
Westland, MI

We need to realize that each child is unique.There is too much importance given to testing. The need is to take each child at their level and not to have each child at the same place. I would like to see funds for smaller classes and well trained assistants-that is the answer.

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Martina Hanley
Jefferson Federation of Teachers 1559
Metarie, LA

You’re killing the excitement and love of learning that all children have with the heavy emphasis on testing and drilling. Excellent schools have the arts as an important part of school. Excellent schools create many opportunities for asking questions and the time to figure things out for yourself or in a small group. Experiencing excellence is very important for children so, through field trips and other avenues, they see excellence in all fields. The “wow” factor needs to be there so they can appreciate and aspire. Teachers and students need a more positive, creative, supportive environment. There is too much bean-counter focus and judgment on numbers. Intimate, small groups enable excellence.

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Lynn VanDeusen
Buckeye
Medina, OH

I would like to see testing requirements for special education students changed. Testing a student with a full scale IQ of 75-80 with a grade level test when they are performing 2-3 grade levels below grade level is cruel. I would like to see more appropriate testing that can actually determine how a student is performing instead of simply reinforcing that the test is one more thing that they are unable to do.

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Jennifer McElroy
Minisink Valley Teachers' Association
Middletown, NY

I would like to see less standardized testing and more focus on learning. Stop blaming teachers. Mandate lower caseloads for teachers and for school counselors. Give educators real and meaningful feedback-- tell us what we do well, how we can improve and then give us the resources and support we need in order to do our jobs. Yes, we need to have standards, but we also need to be able to take into account individual learning styles, cultural differences, language barriers, medical issues, mental illness, and other extenuating circumstances that prevent kids from being successful in school. Give us the resources and support we need.

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Jennifer Finch-Mitchell
Rochester, MN

I would scrap No Child Left Behind and start again. It has not and it will never be effective. Our children need smaller classes, better programs, and more social workers and nurses available. With our society the way it is, children need to be able to talk about their lives, and people need to be in place to mentor and counsel them. The chaos that our children face from day to day must be addressed. They need to feel safe and secure while learning takes place. When a child has to wonder if he/she will get home safely at the end of the day, learning takes a back seat.

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JoEllen Backstrom
chicago, IL

Please end NCLB. It is an extremely unfair law holding students accountable for things they are not capable of doing. Let the legislatures take the test and see how they do. When will families be accountable for their children and their behaviors? Teaching sucks because of the unrealistic things expected from teachers. Next year is my last and the only way I will ever come into a school is to see my grandchildren when I have them. Private education plays by different rules and they aren't the answer either.

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Douglas Sawatzky
Willmar Education Association
Willmar, MN

As a teacher for over 30 years now I'd like to see more money re-directed to teachers and the classroom. Why should an administrator make more money than the professionals that are actually doing the job in the classroom?

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John Persichilli
Many Farms, AZ

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

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

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

I prefer that the same students are tracked in improvement. You cannot measure if a school has made progress with a student if you are measuring different students each year. The key is to track the same cohort as they advance in grade. Therefore, the 9th graders are pretested, then measured again as 10th graders, then finally tested as 11th graders. If a school has not improved the same cohort's national standings within those two years, then it is fair to say that the school is failing these students. However, to compare a completely different group of students each year is not only scientifically invalid, it is ethically unsound.

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Elizabeth Bahn
California Federation of Teachers, 8004
Royal Oaks, CA

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

Tying teacher performance to tests that are a measure of basic reading skills rather than their ability to provide rich curriculum is unacceptable. Using tests whose results have been shown to be meaningless when compared to a national standard (NAEP) is laughable. Having all students reach proficiency by 2014 is even more so. Having a school improvement law that is punitive rather than supportive is immoral and truly unsuccessful. Making teachers the scapegoat is akin to blaming soldiers for the general's decisions. What about the needs of the students, the role of the parent, etc. Give me a break. Put education back in the schools.

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Ellen Driesen
UFT
Brooklyn, NY

I have not seen any components dealing with the student and his/her parent(s)/guardians. I do not want to be held accountable for a student's progress when that student might miss 40 days each school year. I do not want to be held accountable when the parent/guardian does not bother to show up for comprehensive student assistance meetings with school personnel or respond to phone calls. Worse yet, when one is told, "He's your problem. I don't know what to do with him." I don't want to be held accountable when the student fails to do homework or seek help when they are having problems with the subject matter. We all must be accountable.

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Sharon Mervin
PFT
Levittown, PA

I believe that NCLB should have never been developed and implemented in the first place. I teach ESE high school mathematics, and I have to give my ESE 10th graders the regular version of the 10th grade state test here in Florida. It is terribly unfair for them to have to take this test when they have documented disabilities. Also, I will never be able to reach the bonus pay, other teachers are able to get because my students will never pass a test that is not fair to them. Furthermore, I believe that government officials have no business making education policies, when they are no where near a classroom.

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William Garrett
Polk Ed. Foundation
Frostproof, FL

While I support the basic concept of No Child Left Behind, I have problems with the Equal Testing of All. For several years my daughter worked as educational interpreter for the deaf in the Milwaukee Public School System. Because deaf language (American Sign Language) doesn't follow English sentence structure, having them tested, for example in reading, just like their hearing peers wasn't appropriate. This brought the schools test scores down, and they were on the list of schools to be improved. This happens to all schools with children with differing abilities as well as ESL students. Testing needs to be modified to meet the needs of all.

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Kris McPhail
Milwaukee, WI

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

As a special ed teacher for emotionally and behaviorally disabled students, it is disheartening to have this student population lumped together with general ed students and expected/required to meet skills that are beyond their capabilities. To be constantly tested with tests that either are well above or well below current student levels does nothing more than discourage, frustrate and remind students of their inadequacies. Requiring special ed educators to complete requirements that do not relate to the realities of their students' lives is a time, resource, intellectual and emotional waste of effort. Teaching is art not science!

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Ross Pegler
TALC
Fort Myers, FL

If the nation is indeed committed to No Child Left Behind, then why is the federal government, as well as state and local governments, allowing charter schools (which are receiving public moneys) to leave certain children behind by permitting these "so-called" schools to use enrollment practices that are clearly aimed at taking only the best students? We need legislation (and enforcement) that will make charter schools which receive public funds accountable to the same level that the public schools are held to, and which make their practices as transparent as well.

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Matthew Chartan
Cold Spring Harbor TA
Cold Spring Harbor, NY

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

The Alternate Assessments for severely disabled students do not test the things that should be worked on in their school program. These students have no need to work on social studies when they cannot even toilet themselves. (especially at the higher grade levels where the subject matter is more difficult). We now have to spend way too much time doing these things for NYSAA hand over hand with our students when we could be teaching them practical daily life skills that they may actually use. NYSAA should be modified to have the teachers make their own portfolios based on their IEP goals without all the state restrictions.

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Janith Bagley
cantalician center psa
Buffalo, 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

I would like to see the federal government fulfill their obligation to pay for what they mandate. In addition, funding at both the federal and state levels need to be made equitable and consistent. It's almost impossible to deliver consistent educational services without a consistent and adequate level of funding.

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charles anderson
New Ulm Education Association #7186
New Ulm, MN

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

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