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Hello – I have been observing opinions of the public at large regarding the state of our educational system. I have decided to express my opinions regarding this topic. Some may like my opinions some may not. That is the perogative of human individuality. One thing I believe we can all universally agree on is that we need to discard our THEM AND US IDEOLOGY  AND CHANGE IT TO A WE. All societies are dependent on one another for successful existence. May we all become a united front and remember our ultimate goal – our childrens future! Merely a thought to Ponder.

Education reform has always been dictated by societal needs. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was born from a need for high tech, academically savvy Americans who can compete in our interglobal society. The next generation of capitalists must be trained. American corporations are interdependent on foreign trade to survive. Foreign countries experience financial growth through interactions with America. Land Rovers and Lexus have Toyota Engine parts. Chevrolet Geo has Suzuki engine parts. Gas hails from Arabian oil wells. Patients from other countries frequent our hospitals for high risk, state of the art surgery. American educators travel the world teaching English to foreigners. American icons such as McDonalds, Pepsi, and Spiked hair cuts are noted in foreign countries. These examples are a miniscule representation of the relations and dependency that countries have on each other. Prosperity is the ulterior motive of these relations.

The ideology of No Child Left Behind is not new. Expectations in education have been cyclical throughout history. The influx of immigrants in Horace Mann’s era necessitated a curriculum that focused on Americanization of immigrant children. The intent of Mann was not altruistic. It was the assimilation of immigrants into American society as positive contributors to our economy. During the cold war era, emphasis was based on academics. A similarity to modern day schools is noted. Gone was the emphasis on the whole child. Education was reformed to produce American engineers, scientists, and mathematicians that could compete with the Russians. We had to build a bigger, better, space craft than our Russian neighbor’s.

In modern day America, as with our predecessors, molding and training students guarantees the survival of our country. In the fifties the economy depended on competing with other countries for prosperity. In modern day America, the goal is to be sought out by other countries. What deleterious effects does America’s preoccupation with growth and prosperity inflict on our society? “It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.” This phrase speaks a thousand words. The American ideal of survival of the fittest warrants focusing on the strongest members. The weak and assumed useless people are weeded out. Rather than find compensatory strategies that give all kids the same chance to succeed, each child is left to sink or swim. The ones who succeed will be our future leaders. The students who flounder will be left to languish in a hand to mouth existence with no skills. Children have become statistical data on an achievement graph.

Intelligence can’t be measured merely in academic form. A child may be musically inclined, athletically inclined, or artistic. A child’s learning may be impeded by learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, or a dysfunctional household. If compensatory strategies are taught the child will succeed. The standards used to assess a gifted child should differ from those for a learning disabled child. High expectations are non negotiable. However, what those expectations are differ from child to child. Challenges should be safe and individualized for each student. A challenge should create social and academic growth. If the challenge is too high, the child will shirk their academic responsibilities, and suffer irreparable damage to their self esteem.

Accommodations for individual children need to be in place in order for the academically challenged child to score within the median range on assessments. Unfortunately, accommodations cost money. In terms of education the basic mindset is less is best. A society, who will spend $150.00 on a ticket to a Football Game, yet will wage war at the threat of having real estate taxes raised for education. It is much easier to play the blame game. Blame the parents, society, teachers, and administrators. Taking personal responsibility for America’s educational dilemma would mean admitting that we all have a stake in children’s education. Not a comfortable idea for the majority of the population to ponder.

Teachers carry a huge weight upon their shoulders. The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is to achieve success. A teacher who has the threat of her job dangled in front of her like a carrot on a stick is not going to feel success. They will experience burn out and become less productive educators. A child who does not pass the M.C.A.S. repeatedly will experience a sense of failure that will haunt them through out life. Watching peers graduate will breed a sense of futility. In the scenarios above, the outcome is predictable. For educators and children alike, frustration leads to apathy, apathy leads to indifference. The end result is that everyone loses.

Intelligence is genetic. However, it is manipulated by the environment. A bright child who receives no stimulation will underachieve. A learning disabled child who is safely challenged will rise beyond expectations. The chance of success can be increased in the right educational setting. Introduce safe challenges that a child is sure to succeed at. A domino effect will occur. Once the taste of success is felt the child will not be adverse to more challenges. Experiencing failure can cause even the brightest child to recoil from academics. Nurture can beat nature. It merely takes the right environment, realistic expectations, and an appreciation of each child’s individuality and learning styles. We all have a function to fill in society as an adult. In our democratic society, the government and stake holders should not decide what that function will be. Accept each child for who they are, and they will be accepting of themselves. No child should be left behind!

This is merely my opinion.

Stay well

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

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I have attempted to tell a story of my recovery from an ear infection. Every educator has most likely experienced the feeling of teaching when they wanted nothing more than to stay in bed. In this story I was reminded of how the children can teach me a thing or two:-0)

I am finally recovering from a terrible double ear infection that has left me temporarily hearing impaired. I must persevere. My classroom and personal issues must consciously be separated. I silently remind myself of this fact as I balance on one knee so I can hear the children’s requests. In reality, I would like nothing better than to be home in bed. Smiles must be placed upon my face and I feign interest in all the children’s requests. If I can’t do this the children will merely infer that I do not wish to be with them. Despite every day challenges they light up my day. I keep reminding my self that for some of these children, I am the only stability in their life.

I silently decided to remind myself of what my role in this class is. My eyes scanned the room and reminders of the positive influence I have on these children are every where. I eyed the cubbies. My coat had been silently moved to a five year olds coat hook. I had forgotten that she likes our jackets to be hung together on the coat hook so that they touch each other. On the table laid several notes written for me in childish scrawl from the children. One portrayed a brightly colored rendition of me wearing my children’s workshop shirt. Under the picture was a note that said “I like that Miss Mari Cares about us.”Another note said “I am glad Miss Mari is here”. These notes reminded me of how much my effort are noticed by the children. How could one not feel better after seeing these reminders?

The children would soon remind me of the difference betweens an adult’s perception of what is important versus a child’s. Saturday is the day we are celebrating Dr. Seuss birthday party. We are to have an open house at the school of which I am expected to attend. Mountains of Dr. Seuss pencils and erasers sat upon the table in my classroom. They awaited the active participation of my young charges to create 100 goody bags for the party. I gazed at those bags and thought about what an effort it would be to get these children to make goodie bags. The thought of that and doling out green eggs and ham the following morning was not my idea of a rousing experience.

The children surprised me. They reminded me of the dangers of assuming the future with my adult lenses. The children gazed at the goody bag articles and shouted with glee. They sat patiently as I explained how to assemble the bags. We than got down to work.  The children ranged in age from five to eight years old. The younger ones were intent on tying the ribbons on the bags independently. My assumption of a job that would be incomplete at days end proved to be wrong. The bags were finished in one hour! The children had such a feeling of pride on their face.

I was reminded that not all learning experiences lie within my curriculum. There is more to learn than just reading and writing. I learned as much from the children as they learned from this experience. Children that began the project feeling incompetent and incapable of doing the project independently had learned new skills like how to tie ribbons on bags. They practiced sorting skills by placing two pencils, and eraser, and a pencil grip in each bag. What I initially perceived as a drudge project turned out to be an enjoyable experience that taught all involved lessons, including me.

I hope my experience reminds all educators of what an awesome job AND responsibility we have.

Mari N. M.Ed., CECE