First off, if you’re a parent and haven’t read a blog entry titled “20/20 Calls It Stupid In America–Video“, then I suggest you do so and take a few minutes to watch the video.

It’s all about something that’s become a major problem in this country and noble sounding things like “No Child Left Behind”, as well intentioned as they may be, are actually causing more harm than good and is contributing to the overall problem.

Why are kids not getting the education they need?  As I see it, there are several reasons:

Because of “No Child Left Behind”, every state has some version of performance evaluation testing (in Arkansas they’re called “benchmark tests”) that are used to determine how good a school is doing based on how the students perform on these tests.  One of the things affected by test results is how much funding the school gets [interestingly enough, the better a school does, the more funding it gets, in spite of the fact that schools where kids aren’t doing as well need the resources much more.]

A big problem with the testing required by “No Child Left Behind” is that all children at a particular age are expected to perform at a specific level.  There is Zero allowance made for those with learning disabilities or physical handicaps.  There’s only the one test and everybody’s expected to take that test the same way and so many end up performing badly on a test that they could have done a lot better on if only it could be adapted to allow for their situation.

In the end “No Child Left Behind” has resulted in schools having to spend a large chunk of their time and resources teaching kids how to pass the tests instead of actually concentrating on teaching their subjects.  Here in this part of Arkansas part of every school year has Social Studies class teaching an additional Math instead as part of preparation for the benchmark tests.

Then there’s teacher pay.  Let’s face it people, there is something seriously wrong with a society that will pay athletes several million dollars a year (EACH!) to play a game (professional or not, it’s still just a game.) while K-12 teachers earn some of the most pathetic wages around.  I’ve read statements that in a large city you can earn more money delivering pizza than you can teaching any K-12 class and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out it was true.

Think about it.  It may sound like a tired old line, but it’s true, children are the future and given the level of education they’re NOT getting, we’re in for rough times to say the very least.  Frankly, teachers OUGHT to be one of the best paid professions out there, with very high standards that need to be met in order to qualify to be a teacher.

Instead, it seems that if anything, the standards are getting lower all the time.  When you look at what they’re paid and how the educational standards have dropped, is it any wonder that so many teachers aren’t interested in doing more than showing up and collecting a paycheck?

That’s not to say that there aren’t dedicated people out there trying to do the best they can in a system that’s falling apart around them, it just means that this society isn’t giving much incentive to become a good teacher when you can make as much or more money asking “Would you like fries with that?” and have a lot less stress and pressure to deal with.

As a result, instead of having no child left behind, we have more children left behind every year and it’s not going to stop until education becomes a priority again…. hopefully before it’s too late.

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