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Friday, May 9, 2008

I'm a little sad...

...to learn that Presidential hopeful John McCain supports No Child Left Behind and merit pay for teachers. Most of you that know us, know that Eric and I don't really align ourselves with any political party as we feel it's important to vote for the candidate that feels the same way we do about issues. For us the biggies have always been education, healthcare, the environment, and the war.

If you don't know a lot about NCLB, I suggest you read up on it. While it's good in its intentions, it is not carried out effectively at all (ask any teacher). I like the parts of it that keep schools accountable for hiring highly qualified teachers...after all, our kids deserve to have someone in the classroom who knows what they're doing. And I like that it wants schools to continue to make improvements. I don't like the parts of it that say if a school is not performing up to standard (this is largely judged by how well students perform on tests) then the government can take over the school, laying off the staff and bringing in a new staff. Why not bring in people to help trouble shoot and work on improving the school instead of laying off the entire staff?

As teachers, we have no control over the things that go on in our students' lives and how much information they choose to retain. I can teach things over and over again, but I do not go home with the student to make sure they study, or do homework, or practice, etc. Likewise, I have no control over whether or not they come to school having had breakfast, a good night's sleep, etc. On test day, I can't hold their hands and bubble in answers for them. Yet NCLB expects that the child coming from a broken, low income home to retain the same information as the child from the higher income, loving home. This is also how merit pay works. A teacher is paid for how well his/her students perform on a test. I met an incredible teacher through my grad. school program that teaches in one of the worst Cincinnati Public Schools. She puts in more hours trying to love and reach those kids than any other teacher I know. Yet she would be one of the first to have her salary lowered by merit pay or potentially lose her job because of NCLB.

I'm fortunate to teach in a district with involved parents, in-tact families, and a lot of support. But I really feel like merit pay and NCLB would be like basing the President's salary on how well the American citizens can do on a citizenship test (I've seen some of the questions in an article I read and they're not all easy) and firing him/her, the cabinet, chiefs of staffs, senators, and representatives if the scores were too low. I'm not trying to tell you who to vote for...there are important issues other than education...I simply needed to vent. And something different definitely needs to be done about education in this country.


PS...check back later tonight/early tomorrow for new pictures from Pig weekend, Cate's 3 month birthday picture, and a special video message from baby herself. :-)

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