Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Nation's Education Left Behind | Common Dreams

A Nation's Education Left Behind | Common Dreams
Diane Ravitch


Todney Harris said...

Hello America! I just thought that I would take a moment and explain the reason why I decided to dedicate myself to writing this publication. First, let me introduce myself. I am an African American male who has dedicated my life to servicing America’s youth as an educator. I have learned a great deal about education and the children of America during my career. My specialty is the content area of History and related subjects. I have worked at both the middle level and at the high school level. I can state for the record that I have enjoyed my career and the interaction with the youth for the last thirteen years. During this time, I have seen changes in this wonderful country of ours that has had a definitive effect on education. These changes in America are the inspiration for this book.

The reason why I have written this book is due to the fact that America’s economic classes (lower, middle and upper) as well as America’s most important institution education, focuses and revolves around the economic philosophy of capitalism. The economic social structure and educational structure in America was created due to the growth of industrialization in this country. The book focuses heavily on economics and it role in the American educational system. There are probably a few people who are wondering why a teacher in America would write a book that talks about America’s economic system due to the fact that I am not a college professor or a teacher of economics. In essence, I am serving as a primary source. I am speaking in a forthright manner regarding the effects of economics on our educational system. It is my hope that everyone enjoys the reading. I also hope that my thoughts that I have written are taken seriously.

I think it is important to start the book by speaking about how our educational system functions currently and then make suggestions as to how the educational and economic systems can improved in a forthright and realistic manner. The politicians must be given a realistic and practical view of changes that will be effective. I have used experience and research to write this book. I hope that the information that is written is taken into serious consideration by the lawmakers in America.

I hope that whoever reads this does so with an open mind. It is not my intent to be controversial or racist, but I just wish to state for the record that there are burning issues/problems that need addressing. This situation is dire. I cannot express the sense of urgency that is upon us. I know that there are individuals that will repudiate what I have written. There are those who fear the truth and will do everything in their power to reduce the importance of the truth. All I ask is to be given the opportunity to foster discussion, as well as the opportunity to speak openly and in a candid manner regarding our current educational and economic issues.

Todney Harris said...

Thus far, I have documented my personal feelings regarding the No Child Left Behind legislation. As of the last week in September of 2011, the act will most certainly be revised during Obama’s administration. Thus far, Arne Duncan the secretary of the Department of Education has revealed that some of the provisions in the act will be either be waived or substantially changed. The major provision that all children be proficient in math and reading by 2014 will most definitely be scrapped from the legislation. In return for the waiver, the Obama administration is expected to attach teacher performance to students test scores and create the expectation that charter school are to be expanded within each state. Obama and Arne Duncan have also stated publicly that each state would be given more flexibility regarding testing controls and standards.

I agree with the fact that states should have more control. I states previously that I think it is unconstitutional for the federal government to intervene in the affairs of education. However, I still have a major issue with linking teacher evaluations and performance based on student test scores and student data. As an educator, I have a fundamental disagreement with attaching teacher performance to student data and testing scores. I can attest for the record that teachers try their best each and every day. Educators have to work with the students that they are given. It is our hope that all students come to school every day willing to work hard and to learn. However, there are just too many variables that educators cannot control that undermine the process. I think that some common sense has to be applied to in this situation.

The overall consensus is that that requiring all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014 has resulted in unnecessary pressure being put upon educators and administration. The pressure has resulted in cheating scandals that occurred in the states of Georgia and Connecticut.

A widespread scandal within the educational community ensued when the Governor’s office of student achievement investigated the abnormal number of erasures on student answer sheets. As a result of this investigation, principals, teachers and other department officials were implicated in the scandal. As a result these public officials and educational staff were either forced to resign or were fired if they weren’t willing to resign officially.

Another cheating scandal erupted in Waterbury Connecticut at Hopeville School. An administrator and a teacher were implicated in the tampering of elementary test scores. The Connecticut Mastery tests were subject to tampering in an effort to raise test scores as well. A state investigation found irregularities in the school's scores on the State Mastery Tests, there were major improvements, and in some cases, scoring top in Connecticut.

If student data and test scores are still going to be the focus of the No Child Left Behind revision, then more scandals could be a very real possibility in the future. I think it is folly to continue to place undue pressure on teachers and administration. This is the very core essence of the bill that needs revision! I just cannot comprehend why this key issue hasn’t been understood by Mr. Duncan or President Obama.