A Petition Calling For the Dismantling of the No Child Left Behind Act
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Below, briefly stated, are some of the reasons we consider the law too destructive to salvage. In its place we call for formal, state-level dialogues led by working educators rather than by politicians, ideology-bound "think tank" members, or leaders of business and industry who have little or no direct experience in the field of education.
THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT:
1. Misdiagnoses the causes of poor educational development, blaming teachers and students for problems over which they have no control.
2. Assumes that competition is the primary motivator of human behavior and that market forces can cure all educational ills.
3. Mandates data driven instruction based on gamesmanship to undermine public confidence in our schools.
4. Uses pseudo science and media manipulation to justify pro-corporate policies and programs, including diverting taxes away from communities and into corporate coffers.
5. Ignores the proven inadequacies, inefficiencies, and problems associated with centralized, "top-down" control.
6. Places control of what is taught in corporate hands many times removed from students, teachers, parents, local school boards, and communities.
7. Requires the use of materials and procedures more likely to produce a passive, compliant workforce than creative, resilient, inquiring, critical, compassionate, engaged members of our democracy.
8. Reflects and perpetuates massive distrust of the skill and professionalism of educators.
9. Allows life-changing, institution-shaping decisions to hinge on single measures of performance.
10. Emphasizes minimum content standards rather than maximum development of human potential.
11. Neglects the teaching of higher order thinking skills which cannot be evaluated by machines.
12. Applies standards to discrete subjects rather than to larger goals such as insightful children, vibrant communities, and a healthy democracy.
13. Forces schools to adhere to a testing regime, with no provision for innovating, adapting to social change, encouraging creativity, or respecting student and community individuality, nuance, and difference.
14. Drives art, music, foreign language, career and technical education, physical education, geography, history, civics and other non-tested subjects out of the curriculum, especially in low-income neighborhoods.
15. Produces multiple, unintended consequences for students, teachers, and communities, including undermining neighborhood schools and blurring the line between church and state.
16. Rates and ranks public schools using procedures that will gradually label them all "failures," so when they fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress, as all schools eventually will, they can be saved by vouchers, charters, or privatization.
While any one of these issues is serious enough to warrant discarding No Child Left Behind, the law suffers from all of them. The number of signatures on this petition should be a clear indicator to state and national policy makers that it is time to move beyond this harmful, highly restrictive law.