To the Editor:
The Commentary “Schools for Other People’s Children” by Alan C. Jones (Jan. 23, 2013) was an excellent exposure of the problems inherent in the No Child Left Behind Act. It should be published in every newspaper and educational journal in America.
An overzealous testing regime can be detrimental to the creative thought process and self-confidence of our children by rewarding regurgitation of facts instead of their problem-solving ability. Schools are not factories, and students are not widgets to be tested and measured to some arbitrary standard.
The reality behind the push for reform is that supporters of NCLB, including big businesses, stand ready with their remedial educational products deemed necessary to “save” or “turn around” public education. Follow the money. Who stands to profit from this enormous market for resource material?
The push to implement the Common Core State Standards comes from private industry. These companies are already geared up to take advantage of curriculum, professional development, and testing associated with the standards, offering a landslide of products under the guise of benefiting public education.
Public education should never be privatized. Currently, private enterprise is controlling public schools in ways that we can’t even imagine. Advertising is pervasive and insidious. There should be a strict demarcation between public education and corporate influence.
Mr. Jones clearly articulated the problems in public schools when they are not allowed to teach their students to the best of their abilities. It’s not too late to become a vibrant, functioning school like the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, which Mr. Jones cites in his Commentary.
States could opt out of the mandates stemming from the No Child Left Behind Act by forfeiting, if necessary, their federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act money. By doing so, their schools could then drop the testing that is tied to the requirement to provide accountability for using Title I funds.
The writer is a retired educator.
A version of this article appeared in the March 27, 2013 edition of Education Week as Education and Business Should Remain Separate