Someone My good friend and quite awesome blogger Joseph IM’d me this quote from Bush yesterday. Another classic example of how it is possible to have some sheepskin hanging, but still not have a fucking clue:

?As yesterday?s positive report card shows,? Bush said, ?childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.?

Here is something the President’s report card won’t show you and something he doesn’t want anyone to know. No Child Left Behind is engineered in such a way as to leave behind a group of kids you wouldn’t think we’d want to leave behind. The gifted.

Personal story. Both of my girls have been identified as gifted. I’m sure this has more to do with their mother than I. She, afterall, has a dual set of sheepskin while I got nuttin’. No certification of any sort of intellectual prowess (lucky for me, I’ve not tended to need them really).

My youngest is way ahead of the curve and some disturbing things are starting to happen. First, she is in a reading group of one because of where she is relative to her class. A reading group, I might add, where you are supposed to pick a partner. I’m hoping this doesn’t induce some sort of talking to herself madness. It has also become apparent that she does not get the attention that other kids get precisely because she is so far along and there is no worry in getting her to levels prescribed by “My Child Left Behind”. What about moving her ahead? Gotta test her for that and they are not allowed to do that, we are told, until later in the year. “Is this another limitation of NCLB?,” we ask. “Don’t get me started,” the teacher tells us.

NCLB is a fraud and a sham. Bush sold it as a system of accountability, but this begs the question. Was student progress NOT tracked before? I seem to remember it. I remember knowing right where I was in terms of grade level, expectations, and how far above or below it I was. I also seem to remember teachers being able to do what is necessary to challenge kids. I read with a grade higher in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. Maybe this is what Emma needs too. What she gets with NCLB is a reading group of one and a teacher who is unable to challenge her with books that she is asking for. You read that correctly. She is asking for harder books because she knows she can read them, but the teacher is unable to give them to her because she can’t test for comprehension on the current ones…due to the system of accountability.

The result? A bored kid who went from loving school and reading to having morning anxiety about going and issues with getting in trouble once she gets there. Heckuva job, Bushie.

Congress is considering changes to the system and I hope they are successful. It’s broken. The ways in which I’d like to see it change will probably never happen. I’d like to see public school run more like Montessori schools with highly trained teachers who learn and cater to each individual kid and let the kid determine more of the curriculum on a daily basis. Politicians and Teacher’s Unions are probably both equally to blame for our lack of vision in that regard.

Bush, in response to recent talk of changes to NCLB:

My call to the Congress is: Don?t water down this good law

I say to Bush: Don’t water down my kid because you want to have something – anything – stand as a legacy for your domestic agenda. NCLB is dumbing down our kids. It might be bringing some kids up to a higher standard…and those kids desperately need that. But a system that does not also take into account that there are kids that don’t fit your square holes of a learning roadmap does a great disservice to our educational system at a time when American kids are falling farther and farther behind kids in other developed nations.

Bush might feel more comfortable if everyone were to dumb down to his level – especially as it concerns grammar – but this system seems to be geared toward giving teachers an uncomfortable incentive to create a modern class of mediocres. No thanks.

We used to sit the troublemakers in the corner by themselves. That’s apparently now where we sit the bright kids.

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  • Forgot to mention this. There is also some more brilliance. I’m not sure if this is specifically NCLB or not, but I find it pretty sad and lazy.

    There is a method known as “hardest first” or some such. Idea is the child works the hardest problem first. If they get it right. They are done. If not, they have to finish the rest of the homework.

    Nice, right? They’ve met the standard. Go sit over there while we work on Billy who appears to need help getting to where you are. There is supposed to be “extension work”, but there really is no emphasis on it. The clear emphasis is whatever the standard has been set at. Students above it appear to be on their own.

  • I expect this is a feature, not a bug. You know, to get people to want vouchers to send their kids to charter schools.

    I understand the plight of the gifted student. I was one. In fact, my teachers (at the Catholic elementary school I attended) thought I had a learning disability (LD) because I was unable to pay attention in class (and had disciplinary problems). My mother – who teaches LD and multiply-handicapped (MH) kids – strongly disagreed with that assessment based on my out-of-school performance (I was reading before I ever went to preschool, and in fact nearly floored my mother when I walked up to her and read her a book for the first time). So I was tested, and it turns out I had a different kind of learning “disability” – I was gifted.

    The Catholic school was unable to meet my educational needs. I was bored out of my mind at school, and it was effecting my classroom performance and behavior. Thankfully, our community had a very strong public school district, with an advanced pull-out program for gifted kids, so my parents offered me a choice, and I decided to transfer to the public school system starting in 4th grade.

    I did much better. We had once-a-week days where we were pulled from our classes, bussed to a different facility, and given various enrichment programs designed to challenge us. And while I still struggled with boredom in regular classes, I excelled in the enrichment program, and later in the honors classes offered at the high school (another thing that wasn’t widely available at the Catholic HS my brother attended).

    Gifted children really do need the same kind of personalized attention that kids on the other end of the scale need. If NCLB has any measurable benefit, it certainly isn’t there for special-needs students. Special needs students are being left behind.

    While I’m not yet a parent, I empathize with you Eric, and I certainly understand the position your daughter is in, ’cause I was right there.

  • Thanks Brian. It is tough seeing your kid do so well then go completely sour. At first you are thrilled at the picture perfect report cards and assessments showing 97 when the requirement is 32 or something.

    What I started to realize is it would be better if all kids were just at or below what is expected individually based on their progress (not some arbitrary standard), and to continue to move the target in a way that pushes them to their maximum potential. Anything less is a failed system IMHO.

  • Eric – I’m emailing you and Holly about this stuff. There is more you can do and people you can contact.

  • And of course I should have said: absolutely NCLB leaves behind the gifted kids. There are something like 45 subgroups to be followed – 45! None are remotely linked to gifted.

    I’ve written about this issue many times and won’t stop until there’s parity for these kids. Ha, I know.

  • FYI: That was me Eric. I IM’d you the quote from Bush.

  • #6: Sorry Joe. Please give Joe the aforementioned credit for IMing me the Bush quote.

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