Take A Stand- Before It’s Too Late

The Obama administration is moving forward with the reauthorization of NCLB (aka- ESEA) and there are currently more questions than answers. While the listening tour continues, Duncan’s recent remarks make a few things clear: the standardized tests are here to stay, at least until we have something better that is equally valid, reliable and practical. The stress is going to continue- in fact, we should expect it. There’s a new sense of urgency at the federal level and, as is always the case, their sense of urgency and its associated actions is about to become our sense of urgency and action.

That being said, I’m slightly heartened by this:

Let us build a law that discourages a narrowing of curriculum and promotes a well- rounded education that draws children into sciences and history, languages and the arts in order to build a society distinguished by both intellectual and economic prowess.

These words seem to offer a glimmer of hope for those of us who have been doing Critical Skills teaching behind enemy lines and in the face of test-prep, drill-and-kill pressures. Now, whether this actually emerges from the laws-and-sausages-mill in the way we imagine is going to depend on us. We need to speak up

Over the coming months the administration will be developing its proposal for reauthorization. Before we do, however, we want to hear from you. We want your input.

Many of you represent key stakeholders. Many of you have expertise. And I know that you all have opinions. Now’s the time to voice them.

So how do you do it? Easy. Send an e-mail to Arnie Duncan. Wondering what to say? How about this:

Dear Secretary Duncan:

As an educator, I feel strongly that NCLB’s past emphasis on test scores as the sole measure of student success and driver of curricular decisions has been miseducative and damaging to America’s children. I ask you to ensure that the re-authorization of the ESEA includes a solid emphasis on not only the content necessary for academic success, but also the skills and dispositions necessary for quality participation in American’s long term economic, social and political systems.

Thank you,

Or, if you’re in the DC area, attend one of the open forums:

Where: Barnard Auditorium at the department’s headquarters in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Building, 400 Maryland Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C.

When:
* Wednesday, Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
* Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
* Wednesday, Nov. 4 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
* Friday, Nov. 20 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
* Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

If nothing else, add the Ed Department Blog to your daily blog reads and comment often and passionately. We know from experience that sitting quietly by will only get us run over. It’s time to stand up and be counted, folks.

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