NCLB Stories: Delaware
"I am a National Board Certified teacher whose students have nominated me for 'Who's Who in American Education,' 'Who's Who Among American Teachers,' and an international honor society of teachers.
"I have taught for over 25 years. I have also worked for a public library and a publishing company. Until the reauthorized ESEA, known as NCLB, I was able to teach students to write well, to read analytically, and to think critically. Now, my time is loaded with paperwork and demands from my administrators to help them meet the NCLB requirements.
"When my administrators come into my classroom, they expect to see something that they can identify as preparing my students to take and pass our Delaware state test. The problem is that most administrators do not teach -- and have never taught -- my subject. Therefore, the plethora of activities that I was once able to use to help my students understand the concepts that I was teaching can no longer be used. The administrators simply do not understand and, even with my help, do not have time to discover what I am doing.
"When the administrators don't see something that they can identify as an item on their NCLB checklist, they write up teachers on improvement plans and start the process of terminating us, so that they will appear proactive in keeping their staff highly qualified. The result is students who learn what will be on the test, and who are terrified that they will not pass it. The students are stressed about a one-time test instead of confident in learning new skills.
"The result is teachers who are stressed about being put on improvement plans and fired without due cause because stressed and undertrained administrators don't see something they can identify as teaching students to pass the test that will rate their schools.
"I had to fight the termination of six good and qualified teachers this year because of this stress. Most were second-year teachers with minor identified problems. With mentoring and training, they might have become our best and brightest teachers. Now they may not have that chance. They certainly have had a blow dealt to their aspirations and may choose to join another profession.
"NCLB has not improved education. It has created a false sense of accountability that is founded on misunderstanding and on training and resources that are inadequate to help dedicated teachers and administrators do what they want to do the most: help students to learn to the best of their ability. Please fix this flawed law! Please fund it fully. Help, not hinder, our public school employees."
High School Teacher
Cape Henlopen School District