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Putting Words in Your Mouth

“Stop talking and finish your workbooks!” “Our school’s goal is to help only those who may be able to pass.” “We don’t have time to read books in English class.” 

All words straight from educators’ mouths—and ones they never expected to hear themselves say. 

“It stopped me in my tracks and sent chills up my spine,” Alaska teacher Heather Mildon says of her workbook-focused invective. “I used to be a great teacher,” Stephanee Jordan lamented. “Last year, I realized I had become something else.” 

It’s all part of the legacy of No Child Left Behind, the current iteration of the longstanding Elementary and Secondary Education Act. (See more on how NCLB has affected educators on page 30.) The law’s test-and-punish provisions have put these unpleasant words in educators’ mouths, but now it’s your turn to talk back. NCLB is due to expire later this year, and as Congress considers changes to the law, stories like those shared by Mildon and Jordan—and possibly you—could make the difference. Read more at, and share your own experiences there.

Looking even further ahead, with NEA’s upcoming 150th anniversary in mind, we’re thinking about the future of public education. In big ways or small, where do you see the profession going over the next 15 years—or 150? Share your thoughts at the e-mail address listed below.


Editor Mark Toner

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