Saturday, September 01, 2007

Leave Those Kids Alone

Blog Exchange

*You can find more info about the Blog Exchange and how to participate, as well as the September participants and entries, by clicking here. Lara is at Laura's place today!*


Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for your commitment to "No Child Left Behind," which has come at tremendous cost and minimal benefit, at best. I especially appreciate how the imagination and discretion of those that spend their time, money, and resources are stifled. You, obviously are trained in education philosophy, and know so much about the plight of the average American in the dilapidated schools and books that are outdated. You are far more qualified than those teachers that selflessly get up each day genuinely trying to make a difference in the lives of children, often using their own meager salary for their classroom budgets.

Mr. President, I know it must be difficult for you to understand, not going to public school yourself. We have a different experience than you have, not being part of the elitist society. I can understand how you could be so out of touch with the rest of America. We do things differently, Mr. President. Hopefully, you can understand that.

Teachers are required to do so much more than teach. They are forced to give so much more. Teaching moments are not always about the lessons themselves, it is about building trust and teaching children what they need to be prepared for life. Memorizing facts is not going to save these children. Children need to have their basic needs filled before we focus on TESTING, TESTING, TESTING. What has your focus on testing gained us? Are we a smarter society? Are children really learning all you believe they should? How are your home state's test scores these days? Oh, you do not want to talk about you?

During my time teaching in the inner city, I saw teachers sharing their breakfast with kids that got themselves ready for school, their siblings, and all without the supervision of their parents. I saw teachers buying lunch for kids that did not have lunch. I saw teachers bringing in three-ring binders, notebooks, paper, and pencils for those that could not afford supplies. I knew teachers that put together clothing drives, yard sales, and field trips to bring joy to these children's lives.

For some of these inner city kids, school is an escape from the abuse in their homes. It is an escape from being left alone while mom is out all night with her boyfriend. It is an escape from the step dad that picks on them. It is a place where they can be kids for a moment, not caretaker of their four siblings. School is a place where a warm heart welcomes them in the classroom. It is where they can believe in themselves and use their imagination.

Mr. President, in every profession, there is someone that ruins it for the rest. This is true in your line of work to be certain. Do not believe for a second teachers do not know who these individuals are. They are easily identified. They are the last to arrive to work and the first to leave. They are waiting for retirement, working for vacation, and are not competent to be in the profession. These teachers are bad apples.

There are those that have the gift to engage their students. There are those teachers that care and they are experts in their field. I am referring to the great story tellers, the ones that teach morals, manners, and values to our future generation. These are the teachers that are teaching basic skills such as saying, "please," and "thank you," how to ask nicely, and simple things that most take for granted. I implore you, LET THEM TEACH.

It is a sad, sad time, where children are not getting what they need from home. Parents are wrapped up in being busy. Family is not the focus. Our focus is on accumulation of wealth. Our priorities are in the wrong place. This is a societal problem that far outweighs any test score. When children are fearing the bully's, feeling stressed out, burned out, over tested, performance is sure to suffer. It is time to rethink your strategy.


A concerned parent and former teacher


Laura is a stay-at-home mom and former high school teacher. She lives in San Diego with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a cat. She blogs at Laura Lohr : My Beautiful Life, where she talks about running marathons, being a mom, traveling, and anything else that comes to mind.


Anonymous said...

Amen, sista! As a teacher, I cannot thank you enough for the the fabulous way you have made your point. Teachers often go very unappreciated. All of that giving and giving and giving, often to the detriment of their own lives and families, is what contributes to burnout, and how we lose the good ones.

Anonymous said...

I think all politicians forget about our children and education.

If every one of them went to public school, I'd like to believe our teachers would be appreciated, schools maintained, and better funded! Great letter.

Jennifer said...

This one makes you think. I live in a region where a huge homeschool movement is happening. I think your reasons are exactly those that are causing this movement to be and to actually be gaining a ton of momentum. Great post...

Gunfighter said...

Brava! Brava!

Taking atest doesn't mean that you have been educaed. All it means is that you can regurgitate dates or facts.

Education shold mean so much more than that!

Anonymous said...

That was just an excellent post!! Every politician and parent should read this.

Alex Elliot said...

Fantastic post! I absolutely agree. Teachers really don't get enough respect.

I keep on hearing from friends of school aged children how their kids are getting so nervous about tests that they're having problems sleeping, eating, etc. A teacher friend of mine said that now they even have instructions on what to do when a kid throws up taking standardized tests because it happens so often.

Anonymous said...

My friend is a teacher and a homeschooler ... she is not a fan. I do not really understand it as an outsider ... hope it gets better for the kids :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so worried about this now that my first child is entering school. Thanks for a great articulation of why.

Lisa said...

Wow, I love this post. Being a teacher myself, I have my own thoughts and opinions about NCLB and I think you may have hit on all of them.

Heather said...

Our teachers deserve better. They should be one of the top-grossing professions, in my opinion.

Lara said...

great letter, laura. i almost wrote about NCLB also, but you did it so eloquently here that i'm glad i didn't have to compete. ;) thanks for being a great blog exchange partner!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lara for such a smooth BE and being such a great partner! It was a blast!

Thank you everyone for your kind compliments! I am beyond flattered!