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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mrs. Pistachio Speaks Out about the No Child Left Behind Act

My wife, Virginia, is as opinionated as I am, if not more so. What is refreshing is, though we most often agree, our paths to what we believe are different, and our arguments are often just as unique. Sometimes, we fully disagree.

As a quick qualifier, before you get to what Mrs. Pistachio has to say, let me run down my opinion on the matter. (Just like a man, huh? Gotta get the first and last words in!)

Republicanism centers around the idea of small government. In other words, the federal government should butt out regarding local concerns. I view the No Child Left Behind Act as big government putting their mittens on the education of our children. Don't get me wrong, our educational system is far from perfect, and needs a lot of help in getting turned around. But one of the provisions of the Act is to take away funds from educational programs that fail to meet the standards. I believe that provision is in error.

Failure normally deserves punishment, but not when it comes to the financial funding of our schools and the educational welfare of our children. The suffering programs, as a result of this Act, receive less funds as a form of punishment, and in turn find it more difficult as a result to climb out of the cellar. Also, the increased work load on the children is beneficial only for a small percentage of kids who does not need any special tutoring or assistance. One example is of my own children who both had speech impediments because of the way their tongues lay upon their palettes. My son was being accused of being lazy and unwilling to learn. Once a wise teacher recognized the problem to simply be speech articulation, he was put into a special program that assisted him in his speech abilities, which then led to improved reading (hard to read a word you can't even pronounce), and his grades came up.

Most children do not need a heavier work load and more stringent standards, but more assistance in helping them understand the work before them. Some simply need to be offered more reasons why being educated is in their best interests. Unfortunately, this is where the parents should be involved, but often don't because each of them work. They are so busy trying to make a living, that they forget all about the children.

I suggest more stringent standards for teachers, and rewarding teachers (rather than the schools) for higher grades by the students. I believe the money spent on this program should be altered to employ more teachers so that the class sizes will dwindle, as well.

The idea for improving our school system is noble, and needed. But how much money are we going to pump into the system before we realize that it is being pumped into the wrong areas? And why should we penalize our children for falling short? Pay raises as incentives for successful teachers (other than schools) would give the teachers more reason to work on "teaching" rather than "babysitting."

Okay, that was my take, here's Mrs. Pistachio's take on this:

I do not believe that the No Child Left Behind Act is a good idea. The intention is good, but the program fails to provide funds for the children that really need help. And children that need a little extra helping hand exist throughout the system, and are constantly ignored, because they just don't make the grade. But if these children have difficulty understanding the material, how are they going to perform better with tougher standards? And who's going to help them? The teacher? Are you kidding me? She's already fully taxed by an overcrowded class size. A teacher's response will usually be something like, "I am doing the best that I can." This is where the parent's need to get involved, as well.

So how is a child to make the grade and move on to the next grade level? With this No Child Left Behind Act in place the children are the ones that are suffering from an increased stress load placed upon them. They are expected to increase their abilities, but they are not given any tools to meet that challenge. And the one person that should be able to help this child reach the new higher standards set by Bush's education Act simply cannot help, because the teacher has too many other kids in the class to worry about.

Granted, the teacher made the choice to be a teacher, and he or she knew going in what they were up against. If the No Child Left Behind Act is to actually work, rather than taking away funding for failure, the program needs to back up the schools with more teachers and supply the teachers with the necessary help that they need so that the children can make the grade. We are so worried about falling behind in the world that we have neglected the very thing that we should be trying to achieve. What we should be trying to do is make sure that all of the children receive the same, equal opportunity for education.

Virginia Gibbs has four Associates Degrees (Two in Human Development), will receive upon completion of two more classes her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology later this year, and has worked in the past as a Pre-School Teacher in both the Secular and Christian school environments.

And in my opinion, her opinion is right because it goes beyond the politics, and looks at the needs of the children. The question is, how to put these goals into a workable plan that makes drastic improvements upon the No Child Left Behind Act. Problem is, Bush worked with Kennedy for this bad law, and thinks that somehow using big government is "compassionate conservatism." Bush is no conservative, and I say that partly because of "No Child Left Behind." If it wasn't for his position on fighting the war, and a few other issues, I'd be ready for a different president.


Anonymous said...

I am not going to take sides between Mrs. and Mr. Pistachio so I start out my argument like this.

First off I believe in the no Child Left behind Act, by stating the fact that Mr. Pistachio hit one particular point that makes it a fact, he stated that there was that one wise teacher recognized the problem to simply be speech articulation, he was put into a special program that assisted him in his speech abilities, which then led to improved reading (hard to read a word you can't even pronounce), and his grades came up.

Exactly Mr. Pistachio that is why that some schools can't handle it is because they have do not hire quality Teachers with the degrees to recognize these special problems, that is the whole Idea of the no child left behind act is that some Schools choose not to set there standards higher to hire well qualified Teachers.

Hence forth the Schools that do hire more qualified Teachers have the ability to handle Students with problems such as that.

It's the whole problem stems from the fact that for 40 plus years we have been pouring money after more money into the education system and where does the money end up at, at the Federal Educational School Board System in Washington DC which does not and I quote does not appropriate the funds to hiring qualified teachers because it is so over whelmed in the bureaucracy of the political system that funds are going in the wrong direction. Which in of it self then you just have the same old system all over again and that does not tend to help out the schools at the Student level.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to direct Ebyjo this way. I'm sure she'd have some great opinionated input on this topic. She is a math teacher at a local public school around here...

I'll reserve my comment until I can touch base with the boss on it. LOL!

Ebyjo said...

I do not believe in NCLB. Do you want to know why? It is ILLEGAL for the federal government to make ANY LAW on state issues such as EDUCATION. The feds are not authorized, and they hijacked the education system. They did create a legal loophole for themselves when they decided that federal funds will be withheld if the federal demands are not met.

Has anyone actually read the NCLB Act or PL 107-110? It is over 670 pages, and it is based on a law from 1965. So this wonderful NEW law, is based on an old system that failed over 40 years ago.

Flaws of NCLB-
1. It requires that special education students be taught with IEP's (Individual Education Plans=can include shortened work, shortened tests, someone read their test to them), but they are legally bound to take the same state exam as general education students, and without the IEP conditions that educators are required by law to give them.

2. NCLB does not consider that all students do not learn under the same criteria, in the same time frame, and at the same pace.

3. NCLB does not consider districts, principals, parents, or even state officials. NCLB goes straight from the feds, to the teachers...

4. NCLB punishes students who fail to meet their qualifications by taking away the very resources they need.

5. NCLB demands that no student excels above the rest, but that they all learn the same.

6. NCLB is unfunded.

I could go on, but I have papers to grade. Thanks for the post Doug. Hello to you Virginia!

Anonymous said...

Color me impressed with Mrs. Pistachio.

Anonymous said...

I tip my hat to Ebyjo, that was awesome and I have to say that I have never read NCLB Act, I guess that I was going by what others have said about it.

Tisha! said...

kchang I'm gloored by the Gibbs couple!

I don't know enough about the "No Child Left Behind Act" and will check it out but I am total agreement with the Gibbs couple on this one and what they should be looking at is ways to train teachers to adapt to the needs of individual children...they all learn in a different manner, some are visual, other tactile so on. We're not curing the disease here!

Anonymous said...

Well said Tisha.

The thing is, "e the people" have to be willing to fund it. We need to fund it municipally, statewide, and nationally, that is, if we're really serious about this.


Anonymous said...

"we the people"