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NCLB Stories: Alabama

"The idea that all children can learn is great. The idea that every child learns at the same rate at the same time is one that no parent should accept as accurate! Experience with children will tell you that this is not true. In our school system, we are working feverishly to develop pacing guides to regulate what is taught every day. We are setting up our children and our teachers for failure. This law is being used as an excuse to not teach children from where they are; we are discouraged from meeting 'Johnny' on his second-grade level and bringing him forward. Let me show and document progress, and I will be happy to do so. But this law, with its dependency on standardized tests, doesn't accomplish what politicians tell you it does."

Michelle Harris
Middle School Teacher
Shelby County Schools
Chelsea, Alabama

 "In August 2006, I will observe my tenth year as a teacher in Tallapoosa County. When I began at my current school, I was told that I would be implementing a new reading program, that we needed to improve reading scores on standardized tests, but that we had no materials, no funds, and no real direction. That year, I had classes ranging in size from 13 to 27 students. In one of the larger classes, I had at least seven special ed students, all classified as educable mentally retarded. They were placed in my regular eighth-grade reading class, where we covered skills ranging from characterization to the distinction between fact and opinion, from finding main ideas to making inferences. These students did not have the foundation to learn these skills, and putting them in this class was a grave disservice to them, me, and the other students in the classroom. Until we fully fund ESEA, hire more special ed teachers, give more support to the regular-classroom teacher, and correctly place these students, ESEA will fail.

"We are experiencing a shortage of new teachers because of horror stories like mine (and there are many, many more that are much, much worse). Public education works, but it does not work under ESEA. This program needs to be abolished, so that we do not lose even more teaching professionals.

"In addition, parents of regular students are getting fed up because they believe their sons and daughters are being held back from accomplishing all that they could by the poor placement of special needs students. These parents are more and more frequently pulling their exceptionally bright students out of public schools and enrolling them in private schools. This needs to stop, and it will stop if ESEA is finally dropped."

Rebecca Mosley
High School Teacher
Tallapoosa County
Dadeville, Alabama

"As a teacher of children with special needs, I am desperately aware that the students I teach will never attain adequate yearly progress, according to the standards as they are now written. No law can change the ability level of these precious students. Most of them, however, will be able to enter society and perform tasks that will provide-if not a living wage-at least a level of proficiency that will allow them to feel pride in a job well done.  

"ESEA in its current form does not allow for the exceptional child (beyond one percent of the population). Please contact the teachers in your area, and ask them how to correct the unreasonable requirements of ESEA-before it is reauthorized!"

Connie S. Myers
Middle School Teacher
Shelby County
Ashville, Alabama