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jeff

a couple of thoughts on this matter.

i'm in the thick of standardized tests, in part b/c my school is the #2 school in the state according to test scores. we take them very seriously, and while there's no direct pressure from our administration, you know you'll catch hell if you blow your scores.
while i'd love to craft an inquiry-based curriculum, full of activities designed to open the mind, i constantly find myself reverting back to the standard curriculum.
this runs contrary to my goals of producing free-thinking students. so from one engulfed by testing, i'd say that current policy trends are taking our schools to where they were decades ago. i sometimes wonder how well my kids will fair in a world where jobs requiring basic skills are becoming more scarce. how will they compete in this global economy?


the kozol piece raises some good points, but i'd like to offer a situation in which i think NCLB has actually benefitted minority
students. i student-taught at a school ranked among the top 50 in the nation. problem was, this school had a minority student population that was underserved. before NCLB, the school had the ability to hide this achievement gap through the achievement of their higher-end students. now, they are forced to deal with this achievement gap and are seriously looking at the issue. i hate to say it, but i feel like if NCLB standards were not around, those minority students would still be forgotten.

Rob H.

A good point, Jeff. As much as I hate to admit it, I agree that NCLB has turned a spotlight on those schools that were just horrible, those slipping under the radar. But of course, as you wrote about, its gone too far in most cases and in its application. Now the testing drives the curriculum (as you say), the pedagogy, and even our overarching philosophies of education. It reinforces that education is solely about a number on a test, not about critical thinking or citizenship or broad perspectives; its just a means to an end. Troubling Troubling.

Kimberly

I always feel sooooo frustrated after reading Kozol. I totally appreciate him putting the information out there, but where is the damn revolution!!!! It is articles like these that make me want to go out and recruit every good teacher I know to take over our public schools so that things don't get to this point in Indianapolis. But I know in my heart, they are already heading there. IPS just bought into this new reading program for Elementary Ed and it is totally driven by a script. They just want to develop a highly uneducated, but very respectful lower class!!! It is enough to make me want to cry.

I don’t know what the answer is to the problem of desegregating our schools. I was a child when Indianapolis attempted to do this, and it did not work out too well. The white community merely moved outside the boundaries of the Indianapolis Public Schools or they sent their kids to private schools. I also had the pleasure of watching it destroy a community. It was not a good time in our city’s history.

But I have seen first hand that our schools in Indianapolis are not even close to being equal. I have the rare privilege this, my last semester in school, to be doing some field experiences in both a public and a private school. The two schools are separated by about one mile of homes and roads, but by about a millennium in wealth and culture. I drive from one school to the other, amazed by the difference. The public school has an ethnic ratio of 85% African American and 15% White. The private school has an ethnic ratio of (and this is too freaky) 85% White and 15% Minorities. I honestly do not think these numbers are correct, as I have only seen one student at the public school who was not African American and 3 students at the private school who were not White. But the private school has 25 kids per classroom, the public school 35-40 kids per classroom. The private school has a SEPARATE building for their drama classes, and the public school has NO drama department. I was actually recruited to be the teacher in charge of the Drama Club, and I just walked into the building last week and no one knows anything about me yet!! And these are just two things that I have noticed in the two weeks I have been visiting these schools. I am sure there is much more within these schools that is unfair and driven by money and ethnicity!

Anyway, I have ordered Kozol’s book now, so I am sure I am in for some depressing reading.  I only hope that other people will sit up and take notice too!!

Perhaps I should send a copy to the White House or to our Governor . . .

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