November 17, 2007

Another Reason to Hate "NCLB"

I put it in quotation marks because of course it leaves more than one child behind. Teachers, too.

This morning, Matt had to get up at regular school time to get out to the college where his test is. What test? Oh, a stupid test. See, under the "Education President's" legislation, Matt is not "highly qualified" to teach speech.

Even though, you know, he's had state champions. And National qualifiers (some of whom made it out of the preliminary rounds at Nats). And been doing it for nine years at *this* school, and for a while before that. So, why isn't he highly qualified? Because he did not *major* in speech, and did not do a practicum in it as a student teacher (before he was even endorsed in English), and has not taken a certain number of graduate credits in it. That would be because...ummmmm....he already *knows* what he's doing?!? And that's why his colleagues on the speech circuit keep electing him to the State Tournament Committee, which runs the whole event?!? Because he KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING.

But according to Bush, et al., he is not highly qualified, and Matt's district wants every teacher in every classroom to be highly qualified in every subject that they teach (I don't really blame them for wanting to toe the line, parents being what they are. I blame the law). So we must shell out $130 and kill a weekend day, so he can take a test to prove that he is worthy to teach speech. (and if you're wondering, no, there will be no financial reward down the line for that test money; it's not even going to be deductible [it is, in theory, but it would require the planets to align in a way they won't until at least 3045. By which time we won't need the deduction, I'd guess.])

I suppose this is just another abject lesson in why laws should not be quite so sweeping and dogmatic; I'm sure the writers meant to make sure that poor city kids would be taught by teachers who knew something about their subject. (Although even that is suspect, since most of those inner-city schools have basically just eliminated anything but test prep. Heaven forbid students should be taught to *think* least anything beyond "the most common answer is 'c'"!) But not having any provision for past performance--no matter how stellar--is worse than stupid. Like so many other parts of that misbegotten legislation, it's criminal in what it does to teachers...and later, to the kids they won't get to teach. What about those teachers they're supposed to be attracting from other professions? How many stupid hoops are *they* going to have to jump through? (and don't get me started on the tests kids have to take....)

We'll be fine. The money's spent, the test is done. But it's just another reason to loathe this piece of legislation.

1 comment:

Ty Davison said...

I couldn't agree more with what you've written about No Child Left Behind.

I would add also that NCLB is a massive intrusion of the federal government into an area properly governed by states. Although there are exceptions (spelled out in the Constitution), most rights are reserved for the people and the states under the 9th and 10th amendments if they're not already enumerated. We're well past the breaking point in our use of the Commerce Clause to centralize power in Washington, D.C. NCLB is just one notably egregious example.