NCLB Stories: Virginia
"Now is your chance to stop leaving children behind. The pressure is great for teachers to teach to the test, even if students still cannot read well or speak English fluently. All schools need objectives, but the one-size-fits-all ESEA/No Child Left Behind is not the solution for teaching our students."
Middle School English Teacher
"Special education teachers are already leaving my school and our profession at greater rates than other groups. The inflexible demand to prove that one is highly qualified under this legislation adds to their burden and lessens their effectiveness. "
"Instead of being able to take additional courses and learn new teaching strategies, these proven professionals are compelled to demonstrate subject-area proficiency that does not help them meet the specific needs of their students."
Middle School Teacher
Virginia Beach, Virginia
"As an experienced teacher of 20 years, I've found that it is becoming more and more difficult to be the creative teacher I once used to be. I do not have time to do the fun, yet educational units in my classroom because I have to teach to all of the ESEA/NCLB guidelines."
"Now the policy is, 'If it isn't an SOL (Standard of Learning) in Virginia, then don't teach it!' What a shame that the children are missing out on such diverse topics and ways of learning and that we, the educators, are not bringing up thinking children; instead, we are raising rote learners."
Elementary School Teacher
"I believe in high standards for all students. Some of the alternate assessments that are set aside for the special needs population are unreasonable and too advanced."
"I am afraid that this population is being held to a standard and to requirements that are too difficult for them to meet, and that do not show respect for who they are and what they can (and cannot) do! They are special for a reason!"
Special Education Middle School Teacher
"I have a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a Master's degree in computer education. I have been teaching computer programming and computer application classes to students, teachers, and in undergraduate and graduate colleges since 1974 and have written curricula for at least nine computer courses. As my graduate research professor referred to me, I am a 'living fossil' in the field of computer education.
"For five years, I was an instructional specialist for computer education and mathematics in my present school system. The joy I found in teaching students about computers and how to use them carried me through 29 years of teaching. Three years ago, I was declared to be not highly qualified to teach computer classes because I do not have a business degree. When I began teaching computer courses, the computer classes were in the math department. I taught many of the business teachers their introduction to computers.
"Now, without warning, I am not allowed to teach that which I dearly love. I was told that if I completed 30 hours of business—not computer—courses, and at my own expense, I could teach computer classes again.
"My school system decided that I was no longer qualified to teach any math courses except for those that are remedial. I spent the last three years teaching large classes of children who have stuggled with math during all their years in school. After a lot of soul searching, I realized that many of my health problems were directly related to having had to give up what I truly enjoy, so I retired as of July 1, 2006. What I learned is that education today is not about the children and the teachers. It's about being politically correct."
Middle School Teacher
"I am a foreign language teacher. I teach sixth graders an introduction to foreign languages (French, Spanish, German, Latin) and a little about some of the cultures where the above-mentioned languages are (were) spoken. I teach in three elementary schools (as part of the IB program for the middle years).
"The students are constantly asking if we can do special things like have small festivals, bring in special foods, do things that would make studying the foreign language more fun. Unfortunately, there is no time to do so.
"The classroom teachers feel I am taking too much time away from the time they need to prepare the students to test, so our schools can meet the requirements called for by NCLB. Everything in the elementary schools where I teach revolves around whether or not teachers are doing whatever they can to make sure their students pass the tests.
"It's very disheartening to see the school day becoming so prescriptive and regimented. My students are the ones missing out. My colleagues, too, don't have the joy of teaching they once had."
Elementary School Teacher