By Marilyn Redmond

When I read about the results of the WASL in the paper recently, I became unhappy that people have not woken up to the real reasons behind the WASL and its part of the NCLB ACT.

When is education going to wake up that these laws are a form of indoctrination of our children to think in a box instead of be creative, imaginative, use intuition, encourage self expression, and stress their talents in all areas of their lives? The tests create limited thinking for future generations of leaders in our country.

First, education problems is not about money for schools. It is about attitude and philosophy. Money is not the only answer for schools to provide a good education. Also, currently there is a concern about decreasing middle class families. How will this effect most of our children? With Pierce County taxes going up, we need to find a better way to encourage quality not testing which is expensive. It is not about a number on a test which is data being interpreted as intelligence. Neither is education about the fancy computers or a newest building in the better part of town verses those without all the goodies being the looser.

Balance is missing in the schools. It takes money to push everyone down the same rabbit hole. Bush’s brother is selling a program of curriculum to do this. Students need to flower where they are planted and the middle class will regenerate if they are free thinkers that can be responsible, constructive citizens in society. Four of the Five richest men in our country, a few years back, never completed high school. They created fortunes and did not follow the limited thinking of the multitude with restricted learning.

Do we want every student to be a rubber stamp of everyone else? It is like the child pounding on the round peg to make it fit the square hole. Restricted to learning to pass a test keeps thinking in a box of ‘good enough’; criticism comes to those who think beyond the box. Sadly not passing, results in shame and demoralizing the student producing a cheap labor force.

Without balance in a curriculum the inner quality is missing. It does not take more money or tests to allow students expression during their course work to raise their spirit. A new movie recently in theaters shows this. Lacking self-expression through programs like drama, band, art, and creative writing creates robots.

Instead, encouraging inventive, imaginative ideas for solutions supports students to investigate their talents, learn from their mistakes and explore the differences which bring experience and individuality. In a democracy, classes of expression keep the essence of a young person flowing, growing and innovative by changing the perspective not spending more money.

No Child Left Behind is a deception. What does NCLB accomplish? A lack of individuality. Our country has departed from our history’s pioneers in education that provided a creative process producing real education for pupils. The "No child left behind” legislation is a charade. It leads people to believe that everyone is alike in their thinking and with the “right score”, you are successful and intelligent. Experienced teacher know that everyone has a different perception according to their own history. In addition, every person has a different personality expressed through varied talents.

Teachers learn in their college training that a test score is a statistic or number for that time and day in that one moment of a person’s life. It is not an indication of intelligence or a realistic way to base a person’s success. Real education employs creative skills, and other attributes that create self-respect from self-expression or people are like the Dead Sea. The only test should be to see if a person increases his or her own ability from the time before.

Many students have learning disabilities, dyslexia, panic taking tests, or cannot express themselves in this format. The current process denies and shames these pupils; they are not failures. Is it realistic to judge only left-brain skills on a few tests of a young life still learning and immature? Unfortunately, some big corporations would prefer students failing to insure a cheap work force.

“No Child Left Behind” is actually loosing the diversity that promotes growth and wisdom. Surface or orchestrated achievement often leaves emptiness inside. When students are allowed to express themselves, drugs and violence are not a way to cry for help like at Columbine. Forcing everyone’s thinking through the same hole becomes rubber stamp thinking as robots. The current focus in education allows that only those that think alike and pass the state tests are successful.

Self-esteem in maturing by experience is success, not passing a test. Knowing yourself and being able to express it, indicates an educated person. Education needs to stop teaching for tests and teach life as an experience to be lived with imagination and originality. "To Thine Own Self Be True", is the best education we can teach.

I am concerned about the quality of education changing from when I taught school for 44 years. When Suzanne Shade in Curriculum Corner, Milton/Edgewood Signal, a local newspaper, says that selecting material starts with state law, I see a red flag. Why is government determining curriculum? Education is teaching and learning to provide limitless expansion of ones abilities, thinking, and interests by choice.

When Edgemont School District was an eight year elementary district, the teachers selected the curriculum determined by the needs of the students in our class room. Gradually, that freedom dissolved when we were forced to merge with another district; then, the administrators told us what to teach. Now the government is telling students what they need.

In educating students this is not realistic. Forcing all students through the same hole is disregarding talents, individual abilities and personal needs of each pupil; it is a limiting perspective of achievement and restricting inquisitiveness. They deserve better than a limited course to pursue so they are easily lead. The more diverse the opportunity for learning the better individual thinkers; diverse education creates growth. Let us look for ways to expand their minds not curb their development to suit the needs of the system. Then our society grows collectively for the good of our society not government.

According to the Center on Educational Policy in year four of this law, its report states the law has torn apart social studies curriculum by focusing on facts that do not make them better leaders or help students make choices.

In addition, the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll of attitudes about public schools asserted that the more people learn about NCLB, the less they agree with its strategies (Rose & Gallup, 2005).

Ten moral concerns about No Child Left Behind are found on the Web page, They are:

    Moral Concern 1: The act sets impossibly high standards.
    Moral Concern 2: Ignores the fact that every child is unique.
    Moral Concern 3: Identifies schools as "failing schools" and this marks children.
    Moral Concern 4: Ignores children with disabilities.
    Moral Concern 5: Requires English language learners to take tests in English before learning the language.
    Moral Concern 6: Blames schools and teachers for challenges beyond their control.
    Moral Concern 7: Obscures the role of the humanities, arts and child development.
    Moral Concern 8: Operates through sanctions, penalizing the most impoverished schools.
    Moral Concern 9: Exacerbates racial and economic segregation.
    Moral Concern 10: Holds poorest schools accountable without funding reforms.
Our country needs students who can develop creative thinking and individual abilities to become the leaders we need for the future, not reducing and narrowing the scope of education through judgment and criteria of an anonymous voice.

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