Public schools robbed of their freedom

The Sept. 15 edition of your paper should be of interest to every parent, and every person who is concerned about the future of our children – the story “SAT scores fall across board” and the Walter Williams column “Too much higher education.”

I’m sure readers were shocked by the facts in these two pieces. After all, we do have a federally imposed program called No Child Left Behind. However, as a veteran teacher, I did not need the catalog of statistics to convince me that NCLB is a failed program that must be repealed.

I’m the daughter of a public-school educator, educated in a public school, and my children were the products of public schools. But if asked the best place to educate a child today, I would have to answer, “In a well-established, fully accredited private or parochial institution.” This is not because I think the teachers are better, and I really prefer the more realistic cross-section of society that public schools provide.

The advantage that a private school has over the public is freedom – to teach what they wish, in the way best suited to the students, at the pace that matches their development, and to assess achievement and use that assessment to drive instruction.

Under NCLB’s stranglehold, none of this can occur. The result: students who are only interested in grades, with huge gaps of understanding, little reasoning ability and a single set of skills geared to passing, but not excelling on, a standardized test. These same students are convinced that they all will go to college, graduate and step into the jobs of their dreams.

Some students who want to train to be diesel mechanics have been forced into a math curriculum that expects everyone to understand calculus, and an English curriculum that requires study of the classics, but never addresses deficits in basic facts and reading comprehension.

Some believe that NCLB was intended to destroy public education. Whether that is true doesn’t really matter, because if it is not repealed soon, it will accomplish that end.

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