Deadline 2014 (Senryu)
No Child Left Behind
All children will pass state tests
Our laws say they must!
Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? Just pass a law that students must be proficient in
reading and math by a certain date, and “ABRACADABRA” our problem is solved! And if they’re
NOT proficient by that date? Diane Ravitch writes in her book, “The Death and Life of the Great
American School System How testing and choice are undermining education, Chapter 6, NCLB,
page 102, paragraph 2 “then their schools and teachers will suffer the consequences.”
Halloween is here,
Cackling witches cast their spells,
Teachers, schools, BEWAAARE!
The magic date when all children are supposed to be proficient is not until 2014, but
consequences came early in Los Angeles when the Los Angeles Times published a series
of articles “that rank 6,000 elementary school teachers based on how much their students
improved on standardized tests.” (Hard Lessons for Teachers by James Rainey, Saturday,
September 4, 2010, L. A, Times Calendar Section). On September 8, 2010, Steve Lopez
interviewed A. J. Duffy (President of UTLA, Los Angeles teachers’ union and it was published
in the Los Angeles Times. In his article Mr.Lopez stated “…the Times used a so-called
value-added formula to examine test scores and see which third – through fifth grade teachers
were best at improving their scores. The paper then published a database of its findings,
naming names, which was understandably painful for some.” The also labeled the teachers
as effective or ineffective and points in between. Indeed, it must have been painful, because
this system of evaluating teachers is unreliable.
The trouble is, the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers has been objected to by many a
distinguished researcher, author and scholar as being potentially inaccurate because it is a flawed
method of judging teacher performance. More to be said about this subject in another article.
I am a retired teacher/mentor teacher and I worked in the LAUSD elementary schools
for over 20 years. Before that, I worked for about 10 years in the Children Centers, mostly as
a preschool teacher. I am now 76 years old and I find I am as interested in education as I ever
was. When I read the L. A. Times articles, I felt the impact as much as if I was still working.
As I looked back over my long career as a teacher, I couldn’t help thinking, as a nation
we have something to learn from the NCLB legislation: You can’t legislate reality into existence.
Before you can change reality, you must first understand it. Before you can improve
schools, you need to know what a good school is in order to improve education.
Mrs. Ravitch makes a powerful point in chapter 6, page 111 of her book, The Death and Life of the Great
American School System: “Good education cannot be achieved by a strategy of testing
children, shaming educators, and closing schools.” Every person who cares about public
schools should read this book. It’s a wonderful book that’s very readable. Especially
in chapter 11, Lessons Learned, she writes how American Public Schools could be improved.
When I put her book down, I felt a wave of hope surge through me for the much misunderstood
American Public School System. I wanted to start teaching again to be a part of what public
education could be in her vision of schools. Is it time for a new chapter to be written in American
The Open Window (Senryu)
The winds shift and blow
billowing in the window
Slowly, a page turns…
To Be Continued.