NO TEACHER WILL BE LEFT STANDING
Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
October 28, 2003
by Doug Robinson
Today's column: Trying to understand the federal government's No Child Left
Or, as educators fondly call it, No Child Left Untested. Or, No Teacher Left
Standing. Or, No Child Left. Or, No Child's Behind Left.
I hope you picked up the sarcasm. If there's one thing that makes a teacher
madder than a kid with a spitball, it's this Alice-in-Wonderland legislation.
In case you haven't heard, or you have and you're totally confused remember,
these are the same people who wrote the tax laws the law is this: By the year
2014, every child in public school must achieve grade-level proficiency in
reading, math and science.
What a great idea perfect children!!! Next the feds will require the Justice
Department to reform every criminal in the United States en route to closing all
prisons by 2020.
But you can't mean every child, you're thinking. Yes, every child.
Well, you can't mean kids with severe learning disabilities, you're thinking.
Yes. Well, you can't mean kids who don't speak English, you're thinking. Yes and
the law requires that they be tested in English, too.
Well, you can't mean a child with Down syndrome, you're thinking. Yes! Look,
I've only got 650 words to tell you about this insanity, so let's move on.
Each school is required to give expensive tests and show prescribed progress
annually, ultimately ending in perfection in 10 years with every child producing
a C or better in math, English and science. Not only does the entire student
body have to demonstrate annual progress, but the law requires that each
sub-group children in poverty, special ed, minorities, transients, learning
disabled must make the same progress as the mainstream group.
Fortunately, teachers have lots of spare time to work with these kids, and they
can easily fit in the tests and the extra work with the slower kids when they're
not pulling playground, bus and cafeteria duty, serving on committees, taking
in-service classes, mentoring other teachers, teaching overcrowded classes and
grading papers at home just before collapsing in bed. It's the teacher's and
school's fault if one kid who doesn't speak English screws up their batting
If a school fails to achieve AYP (adequate yearly progress), the entire school
is officially labeled a failure. If a school fails to hit AYP for two years,
then it faces federally mandated punishments such as termination for teachers
and a letter notifying all parents that the school has failed and that they can
demand private tutors at school expense and transfer to another school with the
school covering the transportation costs.
By the way, nobody has figured out how any of this will be paid for.
Essentially, the federal government ordered schools to do all of the above, and
when somebody asked how, the feds said, "Search me." Anyone for a bake sale?
"Anybody with two brains cells to rub together can figure out that this is
insane!" says Lily Eskelsen, secretary-treasurer of National Education
Association. "It . . . can't . . . be . . . done!"
This law is the equivalent of telling a high school track coach that every one
of his kids has to run under 12 seconds for 100 meters, including shot putters,
discus throwers and pole vaulters. Even though Johnny weighs 100 pounds and runs
a world record for 100 meters, he still has to throw the shot put 50 feet or
else. Fat kids, skinny kids, slow kids they all must hit the mark, because, as
everyone knows, all kids have the same abilities.
"Everybody has to be good at these three things," says Eskelsen.
"An artist or a kid on the debate team or someone good at technology none of
that is on the test score."
Eskelsen, who spends about 200 nights a year on the road campaigning against No
Child's Behind Left, or whatever it is, refers to the law as a "weapon of mass
distraction." Teachers are so distracted by time spent giving these tests and
meeting the law's requirements that they have less time for teaching, which
means student performance falls, which means the teacher and school will be
By 2014, they'll share that distinction with the legislators and their