Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What We Are Not Sorry to Leave: No Child Left Behind

My daughter entering her new school in Canada

When educational policy turns teachers into taskmasters, no one wins.  Not the students, who are forced to spend most of their time on practicing what is going to be on the test.  Nor is teaching under the current policy in the U.S. that fulfilling for teachers, who are constrained to improve student test performance, rather than trusted to find ways to tailor their time in the classroom to engage the minds of their students.

So we are thankful to be away from those constraints, and have hopes for greater educational freedom in our new elementary school.  Children are eager to learn new things.   Most teachers genuinely want to help their students learn.  Our kids were blessed to have some excellent teachers in the U.S.  However, No Child Left Behind still seemed to hinder a love of learning among students, and it has driven many teachers to leave their profession after a few years or retire early.  While we wish that policy makers would GET A CLUE AND REPEAL NCLB, in the mean time our children and their teachers have been losing out on the best parts of education.  So our family is not sorry at all to be rebooting our children's school experience in Canada.

Every school has some shortcomings, but fewer top-down constraints means more room for learning and growth. And learning, not test scores, is what truly counts, right?  Meanwhile, K-12 education in the U.S. is pushing a generation of children to jump through hoops rather than fostering children's natural ability to learn and discover.  What our world needs are young adults who are truly educated, with the ability to think critically and continue to learn and innovate on their own.  We as parents are committed to working with our children and their teachers to make that more possible.  And without the shackles of NCLB up here, we believe our prospects are much better.

For families who are still in the U.S., the best thing to do is to urge policymakers to make real changes. Especially in an election year, let politicians know loudly and clearly that dissatisfied parents, teachers and children should not have to endure NCLB any longer.

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