I had no idea that I would have so much to say over the summer! I’m still on vacation but my mind is shifting back towards school more and more. I had a couple days of workshops this week and stopped by the classroom for a few minutes. They’ve re-imaged one of the computers, waxed the floor and otherwise left a mess.
We teachers start back in one week. I know, a lot of you just got out! It’s okay not to read blogs while on vacation but it’s nice to write when I have time to think.
I’ve heard from one representative and one senator. My representative was very nice, personal and empathized with my plight. He actually read what I wrote and replied. I sense that he still thinks NCLB is a good idea but sees the need for revision and changes especially in my area of severe disabilities. I will be crossing my usual party line to vote for him.
Saxby Chambliss replied as well. While it was nice of him to do so, considering he’s going to be in for a tough re-election race, his reply was not supportive. In fact, I doubt he (or his staffer) read beyond the subject line. What I got was a canned reply stating his commitment and support for “President Bush’s Education reforms.”
Dear Senator Chambliss,
I am writing to you regarding the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. I am a teacher who teaches students with severe and profound disabilities. I am also a parent of two young children who have mild disabilities on the autistic spectrum.
NCLB is destroying education for children in Georgia and across the nation. The over-emphasis on testing has been a costly exercise that is causing the neglect of both gifted and those with severe disabilities through most resources being channeled towards those who are just below the passing mark in the core subjects.
Personally, I feel like a criminal when having my students with profound disabilities go through the new alternate assessment. Why on earth would anyone demand and expect that an 18 year old with an I.Q. of 7 go through an assessment of American Literature, American History, Algebra, Geometry and Biology or Physical Science? Why are students who can not speak, can not feed themselves or who wear diapers forced to prove performance to grade-level standards? It is not fair to these students and does a disservice to those who do get a regular diploma. What kind of world class educational system shows equal proficiency between someone with and I.Q. of 7 and someone with an I.Q. of 107?
All around the state and nation, teachers such as me are required to demonstrate in some way that these students have some sort of basic grade-level proficiency in the core subjects. These are students whose mental functioning is measured in months not years!
Please help restore some sanity by either scrapping the current law or reforming it in such a way that it might better serve the students that I teach. Our students, their parents and their teachers are in dire need of your help.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding students with significant disabilities and the impact of these NCLB-mandated assessments on teaching and learning in our schools.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Dear Mr. Dalton :
Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about P.L. 107-110, the “No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001.” It is good to hear from you.
President Bush’s landmark education bill, NCLB, set high standards for public education and educators. This bill is set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2007 and must be reauthorized by Congress. It is imperative that every child in Georgia ‘s public school system learns to read to their maximum potential. This is one of my top priorities because reading is the foundation to our children’s academic success and the gateway to knowledge. We need increased accountability for students and teachers, improved results for students with disabilities, increased safety in schools and classrooms, and more parental involvement. Meeting these goals will go a long way in improving the quality of education for all of Georgia ‘s children.
While there have been some concerns with this legislation, I am committed to continuing to implement high standards for our students. Over the last few years, I have met with teachers, principals, and administrators all over the state to discuss the successes and failures of this legislation. I look forward to working with both educators of Georgia and my colleagues in Congress to make positive and necessary changes and improve our education system through the reauthorization of NCLB.
As the husband and father of public school teachers, please know I am committed to improving public education and making sure our children and grandchildren get the best education experience possible. If I may ever be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Now tell me: Did the good senator address my letter at all? My congressman actually typed and wrote his response using snail mail despite my using the web to submit my letter. I thought that was pretty nice. My senators each have snail mail letters on the way with identical text. We’ll see if there is any response and anything deviating from the party line.
Fact is, I don’t think the republicans are listening, or at least the two senators from Georgia aren’t. They both got “boo’ed” at a republican fundraiser when they tried to defend GW’s immigration policy and I think they would get a similar chilly response from voters on NCLB. The more people know about this thing, the less they like it.
[Update: I managed to OCR scan the letter from my representative. Can you see the difference in style and tone here?:
Dear Mr. Dalton:
I couldn’t agree more that the NCLB Act (NCLB) needs wholesale change with regard to children who have severe development disabilities. You described the problem quite well. And you are not the first to highlight this issue.
I don’t serve on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, where NCLB reform legislation will be drafted. I have also been told that NCLB is not expected to be reauthorized until later this year. I know Members of that Committee are sensitive to the issues you raise. I will wait to see the final version of the bill drafted by the Committee before making up my mind, and I will keep your thoughts in mind when making a decision.
Please let me know if I can help in any other way.
Very truly yours,