Contact: Frank Wells (562) 708-5425 or Mike Myslinski at (408) 921-5769
Burlingame - The 340,000 member California Teachers Association launched a major statewide effort today urging Congress and the President to make significant changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, renamed No Child Left Behind by President Bush. The law, which is up for reauthorization this year, has negatively impacted students and schools. CTA and educators across the country are calling for specific and positive changes to the law to help public schools improve student learning. CTA launched its campaign on California Day of the Teacher, a day to recognize the teaching profession and the work teachers do every day in California classrooms.
“No Child Left Behind is taking a lot of the joy and artistry out of teaching and learning,” said CTA President Barbara E. Kerr. “It’s time to erase the one-size-fits-all provisions of NCLB that are hurting students and labeling schools. The law needs to be rewritten and reauthorized so it truly supports teachers, schools, and students.” Kerr spoke in Compton as part of six news conferences across the state. Similar events were held today in San Diego, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Santa Maria, and San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom joined local educators in their call for change.
“Under No Child Left Behind, schools are cutting valuable curricula as they struggle to meet the demands of unfunded mandates,” said Newsom. “We can do better and we can be wiser.”
CTA Vice President David A. Sanchez, Secretary-Treasurer Dean Vogel, and Secretary- Treasurer-elect Daniel Vaughn led news conferences and joined teachers in writing postcards to lawmakers calling for changes to NCLB.
CTA is seeking the following improvements to the law:
Use more than test scores to measure student and school success. Change the law to use multiple measures to gauge student learning and school success. Currently the one-day snapshot of just two standardized test scores is an unfair, inaccurate, and misleading measure of student achievement. Under NCLB, time spent on testing and test preparation has decimated important programs like art, music, foreign languages, and physical education.
Use growth models that recognize school progress and student needs. CTA is calling on Congress to erase the one-size-fits-all approach of the law that requires all students to learn the same way and at the same rate. The law must recognize the individual needs of students and schools. Schools should be given credit for improving student achievement year to year.
Provide assistance and resources, not sanctions. No Child Left Behind’s current approach sets up schools to fail. This year NCLB labeled one of every five California public schools as failing, and that number will only increase given the way the law is written. Instead of punishing schools that need help, the law should provide assistance and resources. The law’s one-size-fits-all approach to education is hurting all students and pushing struggling students even further behind. Congress and the President have broken their promise of funding and support. The shortfall in federal support since 2001 now exceeds $55 billion. It’s wrong for Congress go make additional demands of our schools without providing the resources to meet those demands.
Implement smaller class sizes and other proven reforms that work. California ranks 49th in the nation in the number of teachers per student. Congress should restore and enhance the federal class size reduction program, with priority given to schools of greatest need. ESEA/NCLB should provide quality training to teachers and paraprofessionals, as well as incentives to attract and retain teachers in hard-to-staff schools.
The theme for this year’s California Day of the Teacher was ‘Celebrating the Artistry of Teaching.’ Today’s events spotlighted how No Child Left Behind has been stifling that artistry and how the law must be erased, rewritten and reauthorized if it is going to truly help students achieve. In the coming weeks, CTA members will continue to spread their message and contact members of Congress to make sure that their students get the reforms, support, and resources they deserve.