Friday, October 3, 2008
No Child Left Behind.....hmm?
I don't really understand a whole lot about the whole NCLB (No Child Left Behind) concept. I know it's supposed to put policies in place that ensure that all our kids are learning what they need to succeed, but from what I see something has gone awry in the plan.
Here's the deal: My kids are pretty smart, I'm not trying to brag on them or be that annoying mom, I'm just telling it like it is. Austin is in high level classes in 7th grade. He's always been good at math and this year is taking Algebra-which is considered a 9th grade course. Noah is also doing very well academically and is in the gifted reading and math programs at the elementary school. I've just been happy the past few years that they have had these options and are being encouraged to perform at the highest level they can achieve. Not having kids who were just considered "average", I never really thought there was any difference in the way all the kids were being educated. Turns out I was wrong.
"The Girls" are both intelligent and have the potential to do very well, but they need to be pushed to achieve. This is what you get when you have two kids who have gone to at least SEVEN, maybe more, different schools in their entire school career. Add that to the fact that parents who have their own issues going on aren't always so involved with how their kids are doing in school. Anyone will tell you that parental involvement makes a BIG difference in how kids perform. This means that though they both could do very well, they both are just barely getting by. This doesn't bother us because we figure we will work with the teachers and make sure they are doing their homework, projects, etc. Giving them a little push when they need it, encouragement when they hit a rough patch, and just general help wherever it's needed. Just like we do with our kids. Eventually they will improve and soon be working to their full potential. Right?
Um...not so much! See, we had the pleasure recently of meeting the teachers. The most surprising thing we heard was from Skippy's Language Arts teacher, I'll paraphrase: "I have kids and after football and dance, etc there's no time for homework. So, I don't give a lot." We shared this with her caseworker and her reaction was the same as ours, "and she's a teacher?!" On top of that when she does bring work home it's very simple. It's almost as if they don't want to challenge them. As for Mississippi's teachers most of what we've heard from them is how well she's doing and what a great start she's made. This would make us feel wonderful if her grades and her work reflected that, but she CANNOT spell and when she first came to us getting her to read anything other than a picture book resulted in a meltdown. It's almost as if because her teachers know she is a foster child they are being extra nice to her. Yeah, she's been through a lot and it's sad. But, she doesn't need someone to hold her hand and feel sorry for her, she needs people to push her to rise above the obstacles in her life. She's never going to learn to do that if they just pity her because of where she's come from.
So, this is the conclusion that I have come up with, and I wonder if it's just my county or if it's like this all over. I think that the schools lose funding if the kids don't test well. They've figured out that there are some kids who can be challenged and do really well and there are others that they can't be sure will be able to test and pass if they don't just give them an easy ride. It sounds to me like all the kids who don't get the chance to prove they can handle being challenged are being left behind. They're being sacrificed so that the school doesn't look bad. So much for No Child Left Behind!