The "No Child Left Behind" act. - Mothering Forums
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Activism Archives > The "No Child Left Behind" act.
daylily's Avatar daylily 09:54 PM 04-11-2003
Anyone care to discuss Bush's plan to save the public schools?

Initially, I was inclined to favor this plan, albeit with reservations since it came from the Bush administration. The elementary school in my neighborhood is failing and I've sent my children to a better school in an adjoining neighborhood. I assumed this act would ensure that my children would be able to stay in their school. It turns out the opposite will be the case.

My youngest child, who will enter kindergarten in 2004, has been officially banned from my school of choice by a school board decision. My next youngest will be allowed to stay at her school, with the understanding that she can be thrown out at any time to make room for children transferring in because of "No Child Left Behind." In other words, my child can be forced into a failing school so that other children can attend a successful school.

Our school system, up until two weeks ago, had an open enrollment policy in which parents could request a transfer to a different school for academic reasons. Now, because of "No Child Left Behind" the open enrollment policy has been discontinued. How f*&#ed up is that?

Thankfully, this will not affect my two oldest children because my city has only one middle school and one high school.

Obviously, I'm only looking at this from the perspective of how it affects my family. Does anyone else have opinions about this?

LiamnEmma's Avatar LiamnEmma 01:21 AM 04-12-2003
I'm not sure that's correct...I mean, I'm not saying that your school district hasn't sent that message to you, but we're talking about two different "acts" of them ties federal monies to the achievement of the school and assures parent's that their children can attend the school of their choice (the one you want to quote to your district) and the other simply insists that all children will be above the 50th percentile (a basic ignorance of statistics as far as I'm concerned) : I know there are other things tied into NCLB, but I still think that there are two separate issues here that the district is trying to enmesh. Good luck!
daylily's Avatar daylily 09:43 AM 04-12-2003
How can all children be above the 50th percentile? Even if all children are passing standardized tests, there will always be a bottom 50th percentile.

Children with the greatest financial and academic need will be given first option to transfer, which means my children are out of luck. I don't have any problem with helping the children who have the greatest need, but I'm not convinced that this will help public schools in the long run.
3boys4us's Avatar 3boys4us 09:56 AM 04-12-2003
daylily: I am inclined to agree with the admin. that children with the greatest need should be allowed to switch schools - OTH I think your local school board should be able figure a way to make sure families stay in one school. Certainly with (I'm guessing) 3 kids in one school already - why shouldn't your youngest join them? It would really disturb me about your 3rd possibly being "thrown out" for this.

IMO the lack of a national school policy and standarized education is part of the problem (and I realize that I will get flamed for this) but shouldn't all schools be brought up to a national standard? Letting individual school boards and states set the tone for each school district is part of a problem. I am not saying eliminate the local and state school board but there should be some national standardizing.

And yet you're right - there will always be kids BELOW the 50th percentile.
Ms. Mom's Avatar Ms. Mom 10:05 AM 04-12-2003
This is shocking! I live in a city with HORRIBLE schools. I wouldn't send my worst enemy there.

We use school of choice and my kids attend an AWSOME school. To think that they cold be 'forced' out is frightening. I'm going to do some searching on the internet and see what I find.

If anyone has a link that would help us sort this out, please post it! I'll post my findings as well.
applejuice's Avatar applejuice 02:29 PM 04-12-2003
One word - HOMESCHOOL.

and keep the government out of it.

Thank you.
daylily's Avatar daylily 02:54 PM 04-12-2003
3boys, I agree that needy children should get preference when it comes to transfers. On further reflection, and my own issues aside, I think the problem with this program is that it's all about the schools. "Improve the SCHOOLS and we'll have well educated kids." Education is a two-way street. You need good teachers, but you also need support at home. How will a child learn if s/he is given no encouragment at home? If s/he is never read to, is never allowed to explore the things that interest her? What is the Bush administration doing to help at-risk families in the crucial period from birth to kindergarten age? Do poor families have access to good quality, educational child care? Is there any attempt at the federal level to improve adult literacy? In other words, putting the neediest children in the best schools might not help them very much if their home environments are not conducive to learning.

Ms. Mom, you never know, maybe your kids won't be forced out just because mine were. Do your kids attend school in a totally different town, or just in different neighborhoods within your city? In our system, even though city families are no longer allowed to transfer, non-city residents are still allowed to send their children to city schools for a nominal fee. (And, believe me, many county families take advantage of this policy.) There is no talk of banning them when NCLB goes into effect.

And, Applejuice, homeschool is exactly what I'm going to do with my youngest child, but at great financial cost. We'd been counting on my return to work to help us financially.
BusyMommy's Avatar BusyMommy 03:49 PM 04-12-2003
I know teachers dread this, too.

But, tell me more about your situation-I haven't had my coffee yet.

So, if YOU have a zone exemption to your school of choice, you could lose your spot b/c a "needy" child from a failing school may choose to go there? Is that right?

What if it was your neighborhood school? What happens if too many kids from failing schools come to your neighborhood school? More portables outside?

The only thing I'm familiar with is that if a school fails, the feds take over.
I Believe in Fairies's Avatar I Believe in Fairies 04:02 PM 04-12-2003
Originally posted by 3boys4us
IMO the lack of a national school policy and standardized education is part of the problem (and I realize that I will get flamed for this) but shouldn't all schools be brought up to a national standard? Letting individual school boards and states set the tone for each school district is part of a problem. I am not saying eliminate the local and state school board but there should be some national standard.
I think you and I are in agreement. I actually read the "No Child Left Behind" stuff and it's a whole lot of nothing, except more tests.

I'm a pretty good example of why public schools fail. I moved around a lot in my from 12-18. I had a nw school about every two years. I have never had US History, nor studied novels. Whenever I went to a new school that was the year to study World History (which is really studying WW2) and it was also the year to study short stories. If I have to read "The Most Dangerous Game" one more time I'll swear off all reading.

I've been reading up on countries that score better than the US and they all have national syllabii, state paid day care which is not mandatory and I think they all have liberal maternity leave practices (a year or more). Yesterday I was reading about Sweden since they have for several years had the best reading test scores.

We're going to home school our daughter just because I don't think *any* public or private school could give a great education until there is a national standard. I'd also like to see schools get out of morality education, I personally think that morals should be left at home (and I am a card carrying liberal).
Ms. Mom's Avatar Ms. Mom 04:23 PM 04-12-2003
EM - good to see you around again!

My kids attend school in one city and we live in another. There isn't a SINGLE school in my city I would send my kids to.

I did homeschool last year and really enjoyed it. However, I had a very difficult time working and homeschooling. I felt completely fatigued ALL the time. My dh dosn't do squat around the house or with the kids, so I was working, cleaning and schooling 18 hours a day and sleeping 4-6. I couldn't keep up the pace

I'm going to have to check into this. It would break my heart if the kids could not attend this school. I volunteer 2 days a week and stay VERY involved. I love that ALL the teachers and administraters know me and my kids by name.

Thanks for starting this thread. You've really got me thinking.
applejuice's Avatar applejuice 06:31 PM 04-12-2003
The only answer is HOMESCHOOL

Believe me, as a person who has been a public and private school student, public and private school teacher, and mother of four children in both private and public school, the only answer is to teach your OWN.


The most arrogant SOB's in the world are the administrators in our schools and professors of education in our universities. They just know EVERYTHING (don't you just know it!) and have never spent more than three years in a classroom with an aide or two, are not a parent. They then spend 20-40 years in an office somewhere making decisions about your child.

They have tenure in their job positions and cannot be fired. They know more than you - you smelly peasant you! - and don't you dare question their knowledge and authority because they know more than you ever will know about everything in the entire world.

I became a teacher because I wanted to help little children learn to read and write. Not because I am on a power trip.
applejuice's Avatar applejuice 06:35 PM 04-12-2003
To EM:

If I were your teacher, I would have had a meeting with the principal, and tutored you privately on the subjects you needed to learn, not force you into a classroom to re-learn the same old crap.

I'll bet you may have found it interesting to see the different styles of teaching on the same old information.
LiamnEmma's Avatar LiamnEmma 06:45 PM 04-12-2003
How can all children be above the 50th percentile? Even if all children are passing standardized tests, there will always be a bottom 50th percentile.
Of course, we have a president with a family that seems shocked that half the population is below average, so I guess it shouldn't be much of a shock. :
applejuice's Avatar applejuice 07:16 PM 04-12-2003
...and his wife , the First Lady, is a teacher.
daylily's Avatar daylily 08:08 PM 04-12-2003
Of course, we have a president with a family that seems shocked that half the population is below average, so I guess it shouldn't be much of a shock. :

Laura Bush is a teacher? For some reason I thought she was a librarian.:

Busymommy, I think the way it's going to happen in our district is if there are 50 really needy kids at failing school A, but only 25 spaces available at successful school B, then only 25 kids get to transfer. What a great plan!: The schools can't deny access to children who live in the district and have a right to go to school B. I've attended the last few school board meetings, and that's the impression I got, anyway. None of the school board members seem to be thrilled about Bush's plan, and they seem to be honestly trying to act in the children's best interests. One of them is my neighbor and I can tell he isn't thrilled about sending his daughter to our failing school next year. (In our district, the school board members are basically volunteers--they get a $75 stipend each month and it seems they have to work really hard.) I don't know how it is in other districts.
hydrangea's Avatar hydrangea 02:11 PM 04-13-2003
Applejuice, I am surprised you can say that the only answer is homeschool.

I believe strongly in homeschooling. We homeschool ourselves. And every morning I wake up thankful that we can pull things together enough to be able to afford my being able to stay at home with the children and terrified that we won't be able to continue to do this.

I think that school has to remain remain an option in this economy because many, many people simply cannot afford to homeschool. I know that that working and homeschooling are not necessarily incompatible, but just read Ms. Mom's post to get an idea of how difficult it can be. We'd have to turn this whole economy around to even make mass homeschooling a possibility.

I have all sorts of great ideas of alternatives to the sort of school system we have, but that's a different topic.

Anyway, I just don't believe that saying "the only answer is homeschool" is pragmatic.
Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 04:20 PM 04-13-2003
Daylily ~

May I play devils advocate here?

You said this:
One of them is my neighbor and I can tell he isn't thrilled about sending his daughter to our failing school next year.
Why is this one particular school failing? And what does failing mean (low test scores?)If it is failing why isn't anyone doing anything to stop it from failing? (like above mentioned board person???) It sounds like many of the parents with resources are able to send there kids elsewhere? (By resources I mean the ability to transport them to another school and knowledge of options/paperwork) Couldn't it be within the realm of possibility that if these resourceful parents had their children in the "failing" school it wouldn't be a "failing" school anymore? I have heard and read about schools that have completely turned around due to parent involvement and demands.

I don't know, just an idea

daylily's Avatar daylily 08:17 PM 04-13-2003
LOL, Dierdre, you mention the very arguements the school board used to end the open enrollment policy. The school board member I mentioned, had a great idea to improve this school. Our city has one of the top 20 schools of education in this country: the Curry School at the University of Virginia. This member thinks the Curry School should take our elementary school and turn it into their lab school. I like the idea, but UVA doesn't invest much into the community around here so I don't know if it will happen.

The successful school my children have attended up until now, was not so successful a few years ago. Then the school introduced a Spanish immersion program which proved very popular with well educated non-city residents who now pay tuition to send their children to this school. It's a very diverse school with affluent children mingling with children from a local housing project.

My assigned school is a dreary dungeon-like building with an oppressive atmosphere. None of the classrooms have windows. Apparently, the architects thought children could be forced to learn if all distractions in the form of beauty were taken from them. The kindergarten area, on the day I toured this school, had a nauseating chemical smell. I will NOT send my precious child to spend 6 hours a day in such an environment! This school is also in a neighborhood *distant* from my own.

There is another public elementary school, within *sight* of my house, a beautiful early 20th century building, close to downtown. This school is also failing, but the principal there has taken steps to make this school more attractive such as introducing a strings program so that all children there learn the violin. A group of philanthropists took one entire class at that school under their wing. ANY child from that class who graduates from high school will have his/her college tuition paid for by these philanthropists. I would be willing to send my child to this school, even though it's failing right now. There's something about it's very atmosphere that appeals to me.

Sorry for going so OT, but I don't want anyone to think that I'm trying to shelter my children in some sort of non-diverse vaccuum of a school.

Oh, and by "failing" I did mean low test scores, but it's more the oppresive atmosphere and distant location of this school that turns me off rather than standardized tests.
Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 10:22 PM 04-13-2003
Daylily I definitely didn't think you were trying keep your kids out of a diverse school. That school you're assigned to sounds awful And since the physical plant is a major drawback it doesn't sound like a special curriculum or focus would even improve the situation very much. I have seen some schools without windows, very bizarre! And that stinks that there is one in sight of your house that you would try but are not assigned to

I have seen schools turn around with special programs like Spanish immersion, music magnet or environmental magnet. It is too bad that every school can't just be a "good" school.

Hopefully with pressure from parents you will be able to keep your daughter in her school and get your son in also...

mamaley's Avatar mamaley 10:34 PM 04-13-2003
Don't have a lot of time, but I don't like it because, from what I can tell, it holds the children accountable for failures, rather than the system itself.
This is the Bush administration's way of trying to look like they give a damn about education, when, especially when it comes to the education of America's low-income kids, they don't at all.
hydrangea's Avatar hydrangea 10:50 PM 04-13-2003
My mother serves on the school board in her district, and this No Child Left Behind act is really upsetting her. In fact, she has been much more positive about our homeschooling since this started becoming a reality.
simonee's Avatar simonee 05:23 AM 04-14-2003
It sounds like "No child will be left behind" because Behind is where all the children will be. Except the rich ones of course.

What this country needs is a decent public school system based on support for parents, like below-40-hour work weeks and decent benefits in ALL jobs, so that parents will have enough time and energy to help their children navigate their way through the school experience. Children whose parents have enough time to take care of them, are happier kids who are more excited about learning new stuff. And kids that want to learn new stuff, will. That's what homeschooling proves every day.

If teachers deal with somewhat excited children, they'll like their jobs better, which means better teachers. Which means happier children. Which means better test scores ~ yes, 90% of the children above average :LOL
daylily's Avatar daylily 08:54 AM 04-14-2003
Simonee, since you grew up in the Netherlands, can you tell me why it is that education in Europe seems to be so much better than it is in the US. OR, is it a myth that the Europeans are all better educated than we are? Are literacy rates higher in western European countries because of generous social programs? Because of good-quality state subsidized preschool/childcare? Because of federally mandated educational standards? Enquiring minds want to know!
Ms. Mom's Avatar Ms. Mom 09:11 AM 04-14-2003
My son attended a Charter school in Kindergarten, I homeschooled him for 1st grade and now he's in Public for 2nd grade. What's interesting is that their teaching the kids what he learned in Kindergarten in second grade. To top that off his classmates are having a difficult time learning it?

When working in the classroom I've come to the conclusion that a great deal of our failing schools are due to parents who are not able to be more a part of the school. These kids need more guidance at home and support in school. Somehow, we've come to the conclusion that we send our kids off for education and that this takes that 'burden' off of us.

As parents, we need to be a part of our children's education no matter how we choose to educate them. I'd love to see a campaign geared at educating parents on how to be a part of the public school system.

I'm an oddity at my kids school. Sometimes the teachers don't know what to do with me when I'm there.

I think I strayed a bit off topic - sorry about that.
Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 09:47 AM 04-14-2003
Ms. Mom ~ what my dh wouldn't do for a parent volunteer in his classroom....

ITA about the parent thing. I had a girlfriend who ask her 1st grade class how many of their parents read to them in the evening and only 3 raised their hands I think a program to help parents become more involved sounds like a great idea. Learning doesn't begin or end at the classroom door.

My dh teaches special ed so he is in unique circumstances. But one of the most frustrating things for him is to work very hard with a student's behavior issues and seeing success and then knowing that everything he has done is going to be lost when the student goes home

What this has to do with the No Child Left Behind Act I do not know

daylily's Avatar daylily 09:57 AM 04-14-2003
It has a lot to do with No Child Left Behind. Ms. Mom is exactly right: that a child's home environment is crucial to his/her ability to learn. But under Bush, the home environment of at-risk children is only going to get worse due to policies that hurt the poor and help the rich. NCLB is useless if kids are living in poverty.

I'm guessing that the parents of the poorest children are very unlikely to get involved in their child's school because they're busy working 2 or 3 low paying jobs to make ends meet. Or, they're just embarrassed, have little confidence, were never well educated themselves and think they're not welcome.
Deirdre's Avatar Deirdre 10:15 AM 04-14-2003
Oh, ITA, daylily, I just thought I might be taking the thread OT with my diatribe about lack of parent involvement

Yes, I do think a lot of it does have to do with the economic pressures that parents face. I didn't expand on this but the teacher I mentioned above with only 3 children who had parents who read to them was then teaching in a low income district with many immigrant parents. She now teaches in a wealthy school district where every ALL of the mother's of her student are SAHM's Every child's parent volunteers in her classroom in some capacity. She doesn't know what to do with them all! Now it's too bad that some of those parents couldn;t wander on over to that low income district and volunteer in one of those classrooms.

Or better yet, why don't we have a country that supports parents, pays decent wages and provides healthcare for everyone?
mamaley's Avatar mamaley 12:38 PM 04-14-2003
I just typed a whole bunch and saw that Daylily already said it, and in better words.
BusyMommy's Avatar BusyMommy 01:17 PM 04-14-2003
What do you mean some schools don't allow volunteers? That can't be possible?!?!
Our school board and ad bldg dislike this act as well.

I think parents are a HUGE part of it. I've taught at both ends. This year, I have 12 regular parent volunteers. My kinder. class is simply soaring! This is also the first year our district has given EACH K teacher a 3.5 hour aide.
If Bush wants successful schools, get more caring adults in each room.
My class rocks. They're happy, well adjusted and fully supported students. I'm really going to miss them in 7 weeks.

Don't forget that failing schools may have extra monies through Title 1 funding. This allows for more teachers and resources.

JessicaS's Avatar JessicaS 01:34 PM 04-14-2003
I had actually never heard of parents volunteering in classroms until I saw people mention it on the boards before....I never saw parents in my classses unless it was someone's birthday or something...
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