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

Comments: 358

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

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 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

Accountability is important. In K retention meetings finite pieces of data (SAT 10)on ELL students had our principal and reading specialist considering retention to the amazement of the students' teachers. These ELL students came to us with very low skills yet able to complete rigorous curriculum at 60%, which is far better than previous years because of our specific programs and supports, but these kids are still being considered for retention. Compassionate guidelines are needed; with less than 2 years in school and English not their language at home. The CELLA scores should be available to aid in this decision making process.

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Janet Borchers
TALC - Island Coast Uniserv
Bonita Springs, FL

First, it needs to be funded. Second, not all children are going to score as high as expected, especially if they are behind in reading. We need more government-funded reading classes for the older elementary children. We are focusing on the young (which is good), but the 4th-6th graders are not being helped. Lastly, the tests are given too early in the year (should be in May) and they are way too difficult!

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Lynn Nybo
540
Rockton. , IL

I would like to see parents held more accountable for their child's actions. How can a teacher do their job if the child does not come to school, or comes without adequate supplies? How can students learn and succeed if they do not do their homework or study for the test? I can't go home with all of my 90 students and make them do these things. It is my job to motivate and create an engaging environment in the classroom for the students, not to do so at home. This is the parent's job, not mine, so how can I possibly be held accountable if a student does not "meet the grade"?

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Amanda Altmeyer
JFT
Metairie , LA

The NCLB and the Race to the Top are destroying the teaching profession. The politicians are not educators; they should not be pushing through such drastic changes in a crusade to better education. They are not listening to the educators and the unions which represent them. In the state of Louisiana, our governor is trying to abolish teacher pay scales and link teacher salaries to test scores. Learning can not be interpreted through some number!

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linda jennings
jefferson federation of teachers
New Orleans, LA

How about parent incentives? Why not give parents incentive to work with their children. I'm pretty sure you'd see a huge jump in honor roll students if parents got paid for their child's grades.

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Donah Bassett
marrero, LA

Under the current NCLB, teachers are held responsible for students but are given no resources to encourage students to learn. We have students who have more than 20 days of absence, come with no supplies, refuse to bring in homework and play in class. We call parents to no avail. Parents not teachers should be held responsible for students. Extra incentives should be given to students who have perfect attendance and perform well on test. That could be as simple as a picture and a letter of congratulations from President Obama. Likewise, parents of students who have poor performance should get a formal letter from our State Dept. of Ed.

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Kathy Davis
Atlanta, GA

End the mistaken impression that every child is capable of performing on grade level. I'm not advocating a return to Spec Ed students "painting in the corner," but the idea that every student can and should be taught on grade level is ludicrous. While the aim of NCLB is good, it's not practical, it hasn't been funded, and doesn't work.

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Phil Micocci
Aldine AFT
The Woodlands, TX

Please stop blaming everything on the teachers. Show us some respect. Give us a raise and say "Thank you" once in a while. We deserve all the money and praise that we receive plus lots more.

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Ekineta Ali
dft231
Detroit, MI

Our educators do not deserve all the blame for low school performance because there are other factors that contribute to a school's failure that even the highly qualified and the most effective teachers cannot overcome. Teachers should not be held solely accountable for poor student test scores. I wish we have the right evaluations that measure what our diverse learners and exceptional needs students know and are able to do. I feel that we are also setting up our students to fail when we don't have the right evaluations that measure what they are learning while considering their strengths, weaknesses and special needs.

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Maria Angala
WTU Local6
Washington , DC

ESEA should not suggest or imply that teachers are the "best reason" that students don't perform well on standardized tests and schools don't achieve AYP. ESEA should reflect a diversity of standards,strategies,assessments and tools used to help learners learn, become high achievers and owners of knowledge mastered. Teachers should have more autonomy in how to teach learners in their classrooms. All students will not show their mastery of knowledge gained the same way.Why in education are we pretending that all students need to learn and test in the same traditional ways? They don't!

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Ruth Ellis
Cincinnati Federation of Teachers
Liberty Township, OH

Monitor growth of student and take into account number of days attending school each year. If testing is standardized: test for baseline within first few days of school, mid-year, and end of year - for showing growth. Tests should be administered to all states, but geared to what students are familiar with for that area. Ex. in NM we don't have subways so no questions on tests should involve this. Teachers should have greater percentage of input for resources to be used in classroom. Need additional support in schools, counselors, social workers, RTI specialists in MATH and reading. Professional Development that is teacher led

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Browne Deborah
Albuquerque
Albuquerque, NM

It seems to me we are using a bulddozer to fix a problem suited to the work of a shovel. The acheivement gap is serious and must be corrected, but to destroy systems which have produced greatness for the last 60 years in order to forge ahead puts us all at risk. We need to acknowledge that most systems in place have a high level of success. Where work needs to be done let's do it and let's not waste time on fixing that which is not broken.

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Paul Diamond
Yonkers Federation of Teachers local 860
New York, NY

Once again, teachers are going to be the primary focus when it comes to the success of kids in American schools. It has bothered me for years that working endlessly doesn't seem to be enough. At this point, after 26 years, it crosses my mind that we teacher are the cutting edge of society: the thinkers, the brains behind everyone's success. The administration Blueprint may look like it is scapegoating, and there will be some of that; however, we are the smartest, so now we have to figure it out. Haven't we always?

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G Dermody
Rochester Teachers Association
Rochester, NY

Another injustice of evaluating teachers on test scores is that teachers in middle and high schools don't get to administer the state tests to all of their own students. A teacher may test one of their periods administering all the English, Math, Science, tests. This means that a majority of their students are in some other class being tested where there may be behavior issues because the teacher there isn't very good. I think students should be tested in the class in which they took the subject so that teacher can calm the students and set the proper tone for the high-stakes tests!

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Mary Ellingwood
SVFT 1020
Santa Cruz, CA

Like most educators, I am outraged yet frightened by what I am hearing about the proposed legislation. Teaching is no longer a profession: teaching to the test is. The creativity in our profession is lost. Now there is talk that teachers will be paid according to how students perform on tests. If that occurs, there will be a major teacher shortage. I went into this profession with the hope of making a difference. I feel that vision has been shattered. I am now wondering if this is a profession I can afford to stay in.

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Kevin Weigand
TALC
Fort Myers, FL

My knowledge of students from teaching is that the students are being tested to death. They need a well rounded education. The teachers should be given a curriculum and teach the curriculum. The tests should be from what is being taught by the teachers. There needs to be more career type classes taught. Students can be taught all academics and tested by government made tests, graduate and still not have any skills to make a living.

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Zelda Hentschel
san antonio texas
Helotes, TX

Rather than the unrealistic goal of having all students take final tests like NY's Regents exams, what we really need are more vocational high schools like we had years ago. By this , I do not mean off-site programs like BOCES,but rather full curriculum ,all day programs offered in the high schools themselves, as an equal alternative to the college-bound academic programs.There are too many HS graduates who are not going to college and who are not prepared for any trade career either.The needs of these students have become a big gap in our educational system.

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Deanna Mammina
Rocky Point Teachers Assoc.
Rocky Point, NY

The climate of negativism toward educators has made the public think teaching is like a cookbook--that the pieces make up the whole of what it means to educate. We need to leave behind the attitude that treating professionals in a negative way could possibly have any bearing on improving education. Periodic testing is valuable but as an aside rather than the end-all. It is a tool not a thermometer. Years ago kids just took the tests and this provided us with the information we needed. NCLB assumed teachers were to blame and built proof around that. There is no more essence behind educating and that is what is missing.

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Jane Sherman
Cicero, NY

Many government reports, going back decades, document that the home environment is a more accurate predictor of educational success that the school. This is not to say that good schools are not important. I'm saying that the student who is struggling with issues at home may not come to school with the tools and attitudes that will ensure success. The best teacher in the world can only do so much to motivate this student. And we don't have the time or the money to give this student the help he/she needs. Basing teacher assessment solely on student achievement will drive away good teachers from the schools that need the most help.

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Michael Marinacci
Loganville, GA

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

I do not feel that the tests given (for example the ISAT in Illinois) are fair for children who have learning disabilities. These children who have been identified as having math reasoning deficits are required to take the same math reasoning tests as non-disabled peers. Their scores will always cause a school not to make AYP.

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Bonnie Hannel
Kinderhook, IL

Less reliance on testing and scores and numbers. The pressure is so great to perform on these tests. Less punishment and blame on the teachers at underperforming schools. Schools should be funded properly. It seems that kids that need help aren't going to get the help. More home-based and parental accountability and responsibility.

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karen bates
pft
phila, PA

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