Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reauthorizing NCLB: Time for educators to speak up for an effective Elementary and Secondary Education Act

No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the previous administration's nickname for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, deserves credit for exposing achievement gaps and focusing on education outcomes. Surely these remain admirable goals. However the implementation of NCLB was always problematic. NCLB remains underfunded and doesn't hold schools to high standards. In the process the United States' dropout rate has increased.
Approved by Congress in 2001 and signed by President Bush in 2002, NCLB pushed public schools to improve basic instruction for low-income, minority and disabled students, among others. Congress overwhelmingly approved the law but it has since lost most of its supporters. United States Secretary of Education Duncan notes that many teachers "complain bitterly about NCLB's emphasis on testing" while many parents "just view it as a toxic brand that isn't helping children learn." (October, 2009)
This is the time for educators to respond to the Secretary's call for action. Minimally, educators should be contacting their elected officials--asking them to refocus Congress on the need to reauthorize the ESEA with a mission to "end the culture of blame, self-interest, and disrespect that has demeaned the field of education" and "build a transformative education law" that promotes a well-rounded education "worthy of a great nation." Educators should be proactive in building "...a law that respects the honored, noble status of educators — who should be valued as skilled professionals rather than mere practitioners and compensated accordingly," (Duncan, 2009)

Thursday, October 1, 2009


The Center of Social and Emotional Education identifies research whereby bullying can be reduced up to 50 percent when there's a schoolwide commitment to ending it. Why should a school be committed to reducing bullying? Well, considering Maslow's hiearchy of needs, it becomes easy to understand a student who is physically or emotionally intimidated will not be having basic safety needs nor love and belonging needs satisfied. Therefore his or her education WILL be adversely affected. Any teacher, class, or school truly commited to building a sense of community MUST recognize bullying is an act that should inspire moral outrage.
Stand Up to Bullying! If you are feeling apathetic about this need, don't worry! Your apathy and lack of empathy is the very reason why bullying needs to be addressed directly and systematically. Given my AAA model required for system change (Awareness... Acceptance...then Action), minimally allow yourself the opportunity to become more aware of bullying and the problems it causes. Bully Prevention Awareness Week begins this Sunday, October 4, and the whole child partner: The Center for Social and Emotional Education is providing a variety of resources, including powerpoints, to help engage students and adults to both prevent bullying and encourage "upstander" behavior.
To find out more, visit:
The Keith Valley Middle School in Horsham, PA is implimenting a Bullying Prevention Program called KV K'NEX . As part of this program, during the first week of school a guest speaker was invited to speak with the entire school. John Halligan and his wife lost their 13 year old son, Ryan, to suicide in 2003 because of bullying at school.
Take a few moments for professional development and explore the wealth of available resources to help raise awareness.