Saturday, April 10, 2010

Possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard

No child left behind.

Thanks for nothing, George W.

Did you really think our public schools would be able to adjust to get everyone to a higher level? What they've had to do is drop the standard so that no one gets left behind. An administrator recently confided in me that the standard will drop even lower soon.

I've been in an elementary classroom lately. Let me tell you what "no child left behind" really means:

1. The teacher's primary role is to keep peace until the bell rings.
2. The "teaching" gets done through a series of practice worksheets the week before the standardized test is given.
3. Average is good enough. Why do more?
4. The quiet kids get left behind because all the misbehaving ones drain the teacher's attention.
5. Poor performance is rewarded.

And while I'm on this subject, if you're a teacher with a sleepy child in class, here's a hint: If the child asks to take a nap instead of doing another worksheet, it's not because he/she was up late disco dancing into the wee morning hours. Look at the kid's grades. Are they all 100's? Does he/she get in any trouble? Hmm. Maybe you have a bored student on your hands. Not that you can do anything about that, since you can't leave any child behind.

Okay. I feel better now. Not really, but at least I put it in writing. Ugh.

When I was a kid, you know -- back before bath scrunchees and liquid soap -- school challenged us. Our teachers expected a lot out of us. They came to school to teach us...not to hopefully make it through the day without being mentally, physically or emotionally drained.

There were good students, average students and below average students and we all knew it. We never made fun of each other. We all played together at recess. By the time we hit high school, some of our classmates had dropped out. They needed to in order to help with family obligations. Or, they hated school and wanted to get on with life. Or maybe they got in trouble and school wouldn't keep them. Regardless, we all made our place and some chose to be "left behind." I'm good with that.

Not everyone is college bound. Who cares? There's still something to be said for being a contributing member of society. How will today's kids learn that when they get a trophy just for competing in a pageant or race or a goody bag for showing up at a birthday party? Or when a school puts their name on a poster to celebrate the fact that they are average or proficient?

Sigh. Too bad we couldn't have left you behind a little sooner, Mr. Bush.

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