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Teachers: What do you think of the Obama administration's blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?

Comments: 342

I work in a large urban district. We have 25,000 students, and 75% of them live at or below the poverty line. The district doesn't have taxing authority, we are fiscally dependent on our Mayor & City council for funding. For decades the school's budget takes a back seat to the city’s. Our budget was reduced in 08 & 09. Forty-five percent of our students are Latino, the parents often have limited English language skills. Thirty-five percent are African American and have great problems traveling to many of our more suburban schools. Our parents don't know how to work the city's political power. ESEA Title I money must be available due to need, not more political patronage.

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patricia puleo
yonkers federation of teachers
thornwood , NY

It all sounds good, but what I understood this to mean is that federal money is going to be given to programs and models that are already producing the desired results. Is this correct? The document talks much about goals and desired results, but not necessarily how to achieve them. I know who my lowest achieving students are, and I know that if I had an extra hand or two, and extra time (within the duty day) to work with these students I could do wonders. I am truly hoping that once these working programs and models are established, money will be given to schools in order to implement them.

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Paloma Aranda
ATF Albuquerque Teachers' Federation
Albuquerque, NM

There needs to be SHARED accountability for a student's success. Where is accountability for the parents, and how about the students? Teachers have no control and yet they are expected to find the unique “magic formula” that will lead to success for each individual student. The competitive grant process that runs throughout this blueprint will not help ALL students, just some. The turnaround models seem more like a threat, than a solution. And, where are districts supposed to get the money to implement these models?

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Christine Sipperley
Dearborn Federation of Teachers 681
Dearborn, MI

While I feel there is a need for accountability of student learning and teacher efforts, I think there is entirely too much emphasis placed on one state assessment. There are other assessments that should be put into place from the beginning of each school year throughout to show student growth. That should be enough to prove to the state that our students are progressing. Furthermore, there should be an accountability piece for the parents who don't send their children to school or do not support the teachers or education at home. We all have to work together to insure each child's success which should be our goal as teachers and parents

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Georgette Depew
Hammond
Schererville, IN

It seems to be easier and cheaper to bash teachers rather than fix the root problems. While there are some teachers who are inept or uncaring, those teachers are in the minority. Not every school or district is the same, even within those labeled "failing". Those of us who CHOOSE to work in the most difficult schools and whose students do make gains, need to be commended and given the tools we need for continued success. My students may not test at grade level on testing day, because they don't come in at grade level, but they do make significant gains. I thought this president would be different. It was just talk. I feel like a sucker.

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Sue RichardsChase
CLEA
Walker, MN

I think NCLB needs to be completely thrown out. Other countries are bypassing us in education due to the in-depth nature of the curriculum they teach, not because of how many tests they take. In Albuquerque we are forced to teach out of a basal using a pacing guide which does not allow the students to explore any topic in an in-depth manner. In math it is the same thing, we teach too much content (a mile wide and an inch deep) so that students don't really understand the topics completely. Teachers are being held accountable for situations that are beyond our control: curriculum, parent involvement, student accountability, etc.

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Larissa Samson
Albuquerque, NM

I am pleased to see a broadening of curricular areas looked at and the removal of many punitive elements. I am glad to see an end to the 2014 deadline. As others have noted, it is difficult to teach in schools with decreasing resources and increasing demands, where teachers are held accountable for student test performance and students and their parents are not. This is my 32nd year in the classroom. I have often been assigned the most difficult students because I can teach them. I would hate to be penalized for accepting and trying with those students

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Kurt Adams
LAFSE 03902
Los Alamos, NM

You cannot put the burden of a successful education solely on the teacher. A large part of the process involves the student themselves and their parents. Students who refuse to put forth any effort in their education and parents who support their behavior (usually by ignoring it) will never perform at an acceptable level. And that does not include the students who are behavioral problems - they impact the entire classroom. Parental support is KEY to a child's success in the classroom. There has to be a way to hold parents and students accountable for their efforts in the child's education, not just teachers. It is a three-way street!

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Kelli Baham
Gonzales, LA

I am not a teacher, but I am married to one. I hear daily the challenges teachers face in educating our children. I have a hard time understanding how teachers can be held responsible for a child who has no parental guidance and attend schools that continue to ignore discipline problems. My wife is continually trying to get children the help they need and when parents and administration refuse to intervene, the children suffer. I am all for holding teachers accountable, as long as the rest of the system is held accountable for their responsibilities. My wife has taught for 20+ years, and is National Board Certified.

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Frank Scroggs
Slidell, LA

The focus should be on student progress, not an expected end result that is the same for all. Every school has students that are beginning at different levels. To expect them all to be at the same place at the end of a year is unrealistic. And punishing those schools which have a longer way to go, usually with less resources, by taking away much needed aid is counterproductive. The socioeconomic status of a district should also be taken into account. Lower socioeconomic status usually translates to less support at home compounding the challenge faced by schools. Extra support should be given through afterschool programs, academic and social.

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Kathleen Feldle
Coxsackie-Athens Teacher Association
Athens, NY

As an educator who works in the "trenches" year after year, I am amazed and disappointed at the mandates that are sent down from federal and state levels. We are held responsible, yet we have no voice in the process. Policymakers at the highest levels are too far removed from the action to understand what is needed. Research is valuable but not always viable when it comes to real-world application. Teachers must be part of the solution at all levels. Dictating mandates to the teaching profession, without having been there recently, is not in the best interest of our children.

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Marilyn Mahoney
Volusia Teachers Organization
Edgewater, FL

I taught ESL in Japan for 10 years, and I can tell you the damage done to a student's initiative when the focus is primarily on tests. Enough with No Child. Let the teachers teach!

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Cecile Smit;h
Honolulu, HI

Any plan that involves limiting the authority of the teacher in his or her classroom, increases expectations without providing resources or support, reduces the incentive to seek or stay in a career by taking away earning potential and increasing workload, punishes or rewards someone based on factors that are outside of their control without considering the factors that lead to improvement is a bad plan regardless of whose name is attached.

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Richard Petty
Tyler, TX

It fortifies, rather than reduces, the already disproportionate emphasis on standardized testing and test preparation in our schools. It would stress punitive sanctions that are not research-based for struggling campuses. As an outcome, federal funding for disadvantaged students would then become less reliable, depending more than ever on competitive grants rather than dependable formulas for school districts. In this vein, federal regulations promulgated last year for the so-called Race to the Top program and for School Improvement Grants give me cause for concern.

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Robert Skiles
Arlington, TX

I am stunned. I am horrified. The major problem in every school is that the class enrollment is too large to give personal attention to each student. Add to that a curriculum that is too comprehensive to cover in sufficient depth and tests that demand to be taught to, and a sword of Damocles hanging over the beleaguered heads of exhausted teachers, and I can't imagine why any of them would continue to teach. If teachers are to make up for every deficit in home and society, they have to be given a load they can hope to carry. We only do it for love. It can't be for the money.

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Julie Reynolds-Otrugman
Lincoln City, OR

This bill creates a permanent 5% underclass of schools with the norming of scores. Under a criterion-based system with clearly defined standards, all schools could enjoy success. With the norming of these results, schools are caught in a competitive trap which guarantees that 1/20 of them every year will be subject to sanction. Sanctions include fewer resources for those schools. No teacher would dream of giving less instruction, less prep time and fewer supplies to the lower performing students in class in order to "help" them succeed. Education is cooperative, not competitive, and this bill only pits educators against each other.

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Michael Perrin
Odessa, TX

Why so much focus on preparing children for college? The goal should be ensuring a K-12 education that will provide the knowledge and skills required for functioning in today's world. Why the use of vague terms, for instance "world class education?" Finally, blaming teachers for failure suggests demagoguery and populism. More emphasis should be placed on educating families and developing institutions to support children in need of supportive educational environment. The blueprint seems to me flawed and disappointing.

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Jeanine Plottel
PSC
New York City, NY

What seems to be constantly overlooked is the fact that if you punish a school for low achieving students you are encouraging that school to 'show' achievment where it doesn't exist. Higher standards are set forth, but students are not held accountable for their preformance. Holding them responsibe might entail failing some and withholding graduation until those standards are met. Yet to do so will paint the school as one in which achievement standards are not being met and may result in that school and its staff being punished as set forth in the blueprint. This does not make sense!

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Edward Coviello
Teachers Association of the Tarrytowns
Sleepy Hollow, NY

As a professional I believe that I should be held accountable. I also believe that we have been omitting a key component to this puzzle. When will the discussion also include accountability for parents and students? I think it is completely appropriate to expect that a parent/guardian take an active role in the education of their child. I also believe that the child should be equally committed to their own success. How can I be held accountable for the student who does not come to class, or comes to class with the sole purpose of disrupting the educational process? All stakeholders should be accountable.

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Rex Hull
KCFT & SRP Local 691
Gladstone, MO

I fully support the spirit of this act but must emphasize the importance of the identification and implementation of an accurate assessment process which will evaluate the growth of the individual student. Under NCLB, assessments were not linked to curriculum and achievement was assessed by cohorts. This approach penalizes districts with larger numbers of students who are in the process of acquiring English, designated as needing Special Education services or of low socioeconomic status. If a child makes a year's progress in reading, yet is still below grade level, shouldn't this achievement be acknowledged?

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Adrienne Mecca
Port Chester Teacher Association
Rye, NY

Test scores should be used as part of the process for evaluating systems, but not for individual teachers. Teachers will be set up to fail by not having appropriate curriculum that aligns with standards, clustering poor students in some classrooms, not providing collaboration time,etc. Bless the hearts of those teachers that try to make a difference in the lives of the struggling students . . . but don't expect them to stay long if you use test scores to evaluate them! Regarding the competitive grant process, it is amazing what districts will do for a few dollars. Integrity goes out the window and it is only about winning the money!

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Carrie Robatcek
Education Minnesota Rocori
Cold Spring, MN

The new plan misses the main purpose of education to guide the students to become active learners and competent decision makers and grow into caring, tolerant and responsible human beings. This blueprint shows ignorance about the teaching profession -- taking away the authority, professionalism and creativity from the teachers; taking away almost all the supports teachers need and at the same time blaming teachers for the students' results measured by narrow, culturally insensitive tests, inadequate to diagnose reasons for the growing problems, which often are out of the teachers' control. This is a blueprint for an educational disaster.

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Ana Marjanovic-Shane
Philadelphia, PA

We teachers want all of our students to be as successful and prepared as possible. We strive to scaffold lessons appropriately, we collaborate relentlessly to spiral the curriculum so it's meaningful to our students, and we put in tons of extra energy to ensure our students succeed no matter what. We teachers want the profession to be held accountable for student learning, and we want the right metrics in place to help us determine our next moves with our students. We want to be valued as the ultimate partners that we are: we are the nation's teaching corps, and it is we who possess the drive and talent to move our children forward.

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John Kuijper
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago, IL

Why on earth is President Obama creating incentives for schools to continue dumbing down into test-prep centers? Pretending students are a statistically uniform sample, and pretending standardized test results reflect teaching quality make this plan a great victory... for consultants and vendors of education services and supplies. I am an NBCT who walked door-to-door to help elect this president because he promised to listen to educators not educrats. Scapegoating teachers, blaming rather than building, bubble test-mania, turning kids into conformist robots who won't know what to do when they hit the real world. What a betrayal.

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Mike Archer
LCEA
Fruitland Park, FL

I'm all for keeping everyone accountable for the success of our students. However, I think there is a disconnect about why students do not succeed. There are many factors involved - some of which we have control, and others we do not. To say that effective (or otherwise) teachers are the only factor, misses the boat. Teachers become the "face" of failing students and schools - but it's much bigger than that. To punish teachers for failure (using test scores) is a limited vision. We are ALL accountable.

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Lynne Pugh
Saint Paul Fed Teachers
Woodbury, MN

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