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Published: Wednesday, 5/1/2013

Standardized-test racket is leaving children behind

The No Child Left Behind law began to treat children like factory products

BY LOIS LANE

When people are under extreme stress to maintain their jobs, they will do whatever is necessary to keep them. I saw cheating in schools 20 years ago by “good” teachers.

Cheating is rampant throughout our society. Look at the deceit of large banks and corporations that caused the recession.

Lane Lane
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With the No Child Left Behind law (an oxymoron if ever there was one), children began to be treated like factory products. Everyone would learn to read by fourth grade. Everyone would be able to accomplish this task and that one.

But in reality, any goals set for an entire population are impossible to attain — unless you live in a dictatorship where any malfunctioning child is removed from the system.

We test and we homogenize. Yet we consistently underfund all the extras that matter so much in education — from field trips to gym to the arts to special education.

Worse yet, when everyone is in lockstep, we lose individuality, creativity, rational thinking, diversity, and the ability to use the scientific process. Finally, we lose our humanity.

We have changed the curriculum to allow fourth graders to use a calculator. Few teens can make change without the help of a calculator or cash register.

We allow children to take reading tests on a computer. There are 10 simple questions and no component of critical thinking.

A score of 60 percent is passing. Children can ask someone else what the questions are. They can get 50 percent by guessing.

In Michigan, we have stopped teaching fourth-graders about earlier periods in our history, especially migrations from the eastern United States, because history isn’t on the standardized test at that level. If our future citizens do not understand the past, how can they make good judgments about the future?

Without history, how do we develop a child’s sense of time? Or of consequence and responsibility?

We have an increasing population of drug-addicted children. Where are the studies looking into probable genetic mutations that take place when parents and grandparents have used drugs? Why else are there more children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and autism?

We have a huge percentage of single-parent families and working mothers. Children often are left alone with no parental guidance. We have rampant child abuse and human trafficking.

We have foods that are filled with chemicals and huge amounts of empty calories. We have starving children, obese children, and sometimes they are the same children. Too many brains are malnourished.

Teachers have neither the ability to discipline nor to hug their students.

I suggest that all school administrators and politicians who are involved in school decision-making must be required to spend two weeks to a month in “failing” schools, teaching on a daily basis. They will have to prepare lesson plans, pre-test students, and test them at the end of the unit.

The regular teacher will not be in the classroom to help with lessons or discipline They must keep a journal of their daily activities and results.

When they crawl out of the classroom on their hands and knees at the end of their time in these schools, they will be required to write a report of their observations and suggestions.

All eighth graders should be required to participate in a three-month, away-from-home work program. They should go in small groups in which every child is from a different school.

I would take inner-city children to a Native American reservation — one without casinos — and those from the suburbs to the inner city. They would work with those whose lifestyle is very different. This might teach them compassion for others and broaden their horizons.

Teachers do not go into this profession for the money. They need to be commended for their dedication, professionalism, and courage.

They should be allowed to teach within their own comfort zone, without dreaded tests hanging over their heads.

Last and most important, a nationwide conference of retired teachers should be called to tap their expertise in working with students and teachers, and to get our nation’s schools back on track.

Lois Lane is a retired teacher in Tecumseh, Mich.



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