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

Comments: 358

Change the law so that 1) teachers are legally required, not just allowed, to remove constantly disruptive students from their rooms. 2) abandon education courses (except for special education teachers) and require a teacher to have a degree in an academic subject. 3) teacher training is made universally through the use of mentors 4) all room visits by principals or their representatives should be without prior notice. The visitor should ask a) does the teacher have control of the class; b) does the teacher know the subject and does he/she seem to be eager that the students know it; c) as a "student" in this classroom, am I interested in what is being taught?

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Louis Swilley
Houston , TX

should begin with, "Do you love children?" the most important and critical quality in being an excellent teacher. Remove the threat of lawsuits from the schools. Return to the established findings of the value of teaching the whole person, with spiritual values presented in curriculums. Localize education with no mandates without financing. Teach teachers and students "The Art of Being Human" as primary before the false emphasis on technology, math, and science. Eliminate political correctness from the classroom; mandate real academic freedom.

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Dr. Paul Jankiewicz
PPSTA
Ulster Park, NY

If you are going to base things on test scores, it would be desirable to have one national standard. If politics dictate that this can't be done, maybe there could be a recommended national test. If that can't be done, maybe there could be a way of ranking the various tests that are used in different states according to difficulty, with some kind of conversion table which would allow residents of one state to make a comparison of their scores with those of another state. You might also incorporate the UFT ideas about charter schools in New York that are relevant to the national scene. Requirements on class size and mandates for preschool.

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Gene Binder
UFT
Bronx, NY

All stakeholders need to be EQUALLY accountable. Students and parents need to be graded on their efforts. Teachers, administrators, and districts cannot do this alone. Students must be willing to put forth the effort to be successful on their own. If we do not hold THEM accountable, our country will not be able to advance. Remember that students need to be self-driven -- as all workers must be self-driven to be effective employees. Remember the old adage, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.” All the best teachers will not succeed in cases where the students and their parents are not equally motivated.

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Anne Harris
Polk Education Association
Haines City, FL

More money to help failing schools instead of punshiment. Tests that require higher-order thinking instead of memorizing.

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Joyce Frohn
Oshkosh, WI

If it takes a non-English speaker seven years to learn academic language well enough to use with ease, why would a special needs child take any less time than that? NCLB does not consider the physiology involved with special needs. The AYP is not realistic because a special needs child doesn't show progress in one year. If AYP is met due to the students being given the TAKS A and failing it, the AEIS is going to count against the school, and the teachers who are in the pay for performance program. We are all working with our hands tied and have been set up for failure.

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Sue Gilliland
AFT
The Colony, TX

I would like to see obligatory classes or sessions or even tests to make sure teachers are adequately prepared in their subject matter. As professionals, as with physicians, teachers need to constantly refresh themselves in their field of study.

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Beverly Fradis
DFT
Detroit, MI

I was teaching when it was the Education for Secondary and Elementary Act. I could use projects to teach the skills, and many other creative ideas with students. The concept of No Child Left Behind came from "Leave no Child Behind," but NCLB emphasized testing. That destroyed creativity, because teachers then had to "cover the material that would be on the test". Teachers no longer had children write plays and produce them, etc. Administrators emphasized getting good marks rather than teaching children in the way that they learn best. LNCB emphasized working with parents, teachers, and community to create a better environment for children.

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Darlene Swartz
Spearfish, SD

I never understood the logic in firing math and science teachers when there exists such a huge shortage nationwide. Wouldn't schools simply be swapping out the teachers already in the system? I think we need to pay teachers enough so that districts have a pool of math and science teachers to select from; otherwise, both good and bad teachers will get a job somewhere. It should be required by law that districts increase salaries enough to create a surplus to choose from.

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Jonathan Garrison
Arlington, TX

AYP should be based on where the school starts out. In my old school, many kids started freshman yr. reading at the 4th grade level. I think that schools should be rated as ok if the kids get up to 6th grade or so after a year at the school. If AYP continues to be pushed up, eventually hardly any school will make the cut.

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barbara farmer
proviso teachers union
river grove, IL

Not every student is able to pass all courses. i.e. special needs students in 8th grade functioning on a 3rd or 4th grade level being expected to pass Algebra when their main need is to be taught life skills so that they might be able to function somewhat in society on their own. Students are being promoted even though they have not successfully learned the material presented and are now supposed to be able to continue with the next level of study, frustrating both student and teacher.

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donna brunza
deer park schools
deer park, NY

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

1.) Give ESL students three years before taking the test on THEIR comprehension/English level...not current grade level. 2.) Give Special Ed. students the test on their comprehension level, not grade level, but make sure there is progress each year. 3.) Don't punish schools by labeling them publicly...it destroys the pride both in students and community. 4.) States MUST HELP schools that are "failing" by sending in professional teams of math/writing/reading coaches to encourage the teachers and guide them (guide, NOT force) 5.) Do NOT mandate any more testing! 6.) Eliminate annual budget elections...schools need steady funding.

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Mike Ryan
Cliffside Park, NJ

The NCLB and ESEA have not taken into consideration ALL of the special needs children -- from the mildest of disabilities to the most severe -- and how they are assessed. Since they have already been identified, or are in the process of being identified as having difficulties learning, there is no reason to AGAIN test them (we KNOW they are NOT at grade level). Secondly, the assessments used to identify these struggling students are more specific than those mandated tests. Lastly, many regular ed. teachers are not (sufficiently) trained to teach to special needs students and are often frustrated by this. These issues need to be addressed.

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Gretchen Schafer
MISD
Troy, MI

The possibility of every child reaching proficiency by 2014 is incredibly unrealistic. All children do not have equal intellectual abilities. It is not possible for children with very low IQ's or disabilities to reach the same degree of achievement. Children from poverty-stricken areas and from non-English speaking backgrounds are at a disadvantage and these differences need to be taken into account. Schools need more financial support for extra academic help for these children. The bill also needs to require more accountability from students and parents.

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Kathleen Tomilson
Coventry Teachers Alliance
Coventry, RI

NCLB must recognize that, even though the number of students ages 16-21 with severe multiple disabilities is extremely small, we do have them in our 12:1:4 self contained classrooms. At 16, NO!, most will not improve each year in math, reading etc, especially those with severe seizure disorders that regress with each major seizure. However, we can teach them to be as independent as possible in preparation for the Day Hab centers that they will attend after hitting 21. We need to concentrate on improving their communication and daily living skills to really enrich their future. Make alternate assessment meaningful for their actual cognitive levels.

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Margaret DePaula
UFT
Ridgewood, NY

If education reform is ever going to truly be effective, we MUST give the teachers the freedom and professional authority to make the decisions necessary to educate the whole child. Standardized testing is useful if you have a class of standardized students, but that will NEVER be the norm. We are the professionals, not some politician sitting behind a desk. NCLB should be scrapped and a new, more thought-out system, developed by the people who are actually involved in the process, implemented.

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matthew gallagher
marlboro teachers association
marlboro, NY

I would like to see inclusion on a case-by-case basis, not according to a rigid law. I have worked for 38 years in the public schools as a speech/language pathologist and have worked with special ed kids who are not making it in the regular educaton room.

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ellen lunz
CTU Chicago Teachers union
wilmette, IL

It is time that the real educators are asked for their input. Sadly, many of today's directors of education have little or (usually) no long experience in the classroom. Teachers nominated by their students for Who's Who Among America's Teachers might be a resource. Yes, this is a commercial organization but at least 80% of those nominated have to have made a difference in the life of the child he/she helped educate. Why else would a child want to nominate this teacher? Also, ask the children how they learned from their best teachers.

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Barbara Menna
UFT
Staten Island, NY

I would like our students, schools, and teachers to be evaluated on personal growth, not abstract numbers. Children come in very low, up to 3 grade levels behind in the most extreme cases. We work with them where they are at, not where we wish they could be. If I get a kid who comes to me pre-reading in the third grade (and this has happened) are we really surprised he is not on grade level in June? We need ways to chart the growth of a child's progress (running records?) based on where they started, and how far they progressed.

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Aerielle Spusta
daly city, CA

There is no way that all children will be able to accomplish an equal goal of state testing mandates. We need to have NCLB address children reaching their potential, which will vary as it always did. There is no reason to make all children regent in New York, no reason to put all students, particularly the more learning disabled students, in a position of having to take standardized tests which end up guiding our curriculum instead of having developmental needs and abilities guide the appropriate curriculum being taught. There is a huge inconsistency between what is being taught and developmental appropriateness.

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Gail Berger
Carmel
Cornwall, NY

We need to be able to judge AYP for each individual - using groups is not statistically useful or accurate. In New Jersey, we foolishly compare two different groups for AYP, a statistical nightmare - surely our computers could be capable of checking individual comparison - we also need to recognize that Special Ed. students grow at different rates and at different times and each disability presents different needs - the same is true for ESL - much needs to change and we need to use good judgment, developed by experts in the field - and all states need to be held to the same standards.

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Henry Pomerantz
UAFNJ 2222 - Sussex
Newton, NJ

NCLB is unfair to all children. The mandates it has required all schools to abide by have not been funded; subgroups have created different treatment of children; schools are placed on lists as being in need of improvement in many cases by not making targets when they are actually only a very few students away from the targets. In those cases the school is treated the same as a school that is very far from the targets. Finally testing has become about assessing schools and not about assessing student learning.

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Esta Newman
UFT/NYSUT Local 2
Douglaston, NY

End AYP: yearly testing with different students each year! Can we finally test the students in the beginning of the year and then at the end of the year and show the growth?! And here's another suggestion--how about a universal curriculum? Every state teaching the same stuff. Wow, wouldn't that be better to compare than every state teaching what they believe is the best?

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Cynthia M. DeNardis
1052
Sterling Heights, MI

As teachers strive to meet individual needs, and account for the differences in learning styles of each of their students, it is ludicrous to evaluate learning with a "One Test Fits All" approach. Sadly, since "No Child Left Behind" was enacted, teachers are pressured to teach to the test and not to the child. What happened to the "teachable moment"? Where is teacher judgment in the evaluation of a child's learning? Where is the place for the creative child who scores poorly on tests but is a superior learner? True learning will return to the classroom when teachers are allowed to teach children -- not just test material.

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Linda Tremml
UFT
Long Island City, NY

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