Wednesday, September 3, 2008

We Needs Us Good Edgewcashun

Whether intentional or not, it would appear that the beginning of September is going to be chock full of "Back to School" info for the 'Burb posse. Today's post is all about the "No Child Left Inside" legislation (H.R. 3036, S. 1981) that is scheduled for a vote in the House next week. The NCLI legislation would amend the existing "No Child Left Behind" Act to include funding for Environmental Education.

Blah, blah, blah "child"... Blah, blah, blah "environment" What the hell is she talking about now? Catch me up, Burbs, would ya? But make it quick - I ain't gettin any younger here.

OK... in brief (or cotton grannies, as the case may be): When the No Child Left Behind legislation was first passed in 2001, the intent was to improve and standardize the education received by American children. However, by implementing a litany of required tests for school children - upon which federal funding is based - a number of unexpected consequences have occurred.

Namely, we have quickly become a nation obsessed with cramming for standardized tests. The schools rely heavily on federal funds and, in order to receive those funds, the students must perform well on the national tests. And so the teachers are making sure that every kid knows who our 12th President is, and how many sides a rhombus has - but at the expense of other subjects.

For example, I'm sure you all have heard about how recess and PE have taken a hit in our schools. Most schools no longer offer daily PE class. In fact, many schools only require two years of PE in high school. Yikes. Just two years of physical education. It's not a frickin' foreign language - it's a healthy lifestyle. Where, exactly, are our priorities?

Oh yeah, that's right.... our priorities are the dollars. After all, there's no standardized dodge ball test that'll bring in federal funds.

OK, now think about environmental education. How many national standardized tests do you suppose require our children to be able to identify a native plant? How many tests require them to explain the recycling process of aluminum? Or the effects of plastic on marine life? Or melting ice caps? Or global warming? Ummm... None. None. None. None. and None.

But a rhombus has four sides.

One more rant before I get on to my call of action....

My son, Ethan, has speech issues. He goes to speech therapy weekly at our local elementary school. I was talking to his teacher about the NCLB Act and she was telling me how it is having a really detrimental effect on the disabled and challenged students.

You see, it used to be that teachers would be allowed the freedom to evaluate individuals and then create an individual plan for educating that student so that he/she would be able to function on their own in society. Now some folks, plain and simple, are not going on to college. or even trade school. and THAT'S OK. So why should they all be forced to learn the same shit? Wouldn't a challenged individual be better off to learn basics like - how to handle their own money, how to fill out a job application, how to bus tables or clean floors or work office equipment or SOME LIFE SKILLS, rather than cramming for a standardized test on American literature?

Now don't get me wrong. In theory, the NCLB Act was a great idea. However, we are quickly discovering that it is in need of some SERIOUS tweaking. So once again, it is time to get the lead out.

Pull out your list of representatives, if you will, and draw up a letter in support of HR 3036 and S 1981 - The No Child Left Inside Act. If you want to go the lazy route (hey, you know me, I'm nothing if not lazy) just jump on over to the CBF's NCLI Action Page and use their handy dandy form. While you're there, please read through the information on the NCLI and the history behind its introduction - as well as other ways you can help.

Now, more than ever, we need to be teaching our children the importance of caring for the earth. After all, you reap what you sow. And our kids should know what the hell that saying means.


ib mommy said...

Straight from the mouth of one of my kids... "Oh, I don't have to know that anymore.... we learned it last year".

Robj98168 said...

Barbara Bush and the entire Bush clan was at a press conference. When Barbara began to speak, Someone yelled "SHOW US YOUR BOOB'S" she turned to her sons and said Jeb, "W", they wanna see you.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing this info! my youngest daughter is currently working on her master's in environmental ed and working for the USFWS in the summer. this is a wonderful and timely proposal. i jumped right over to the link and signed on in support.

Constance said...

I teach computer science at a community college. My students over 30 generally do fine. The younger ones don't have any sense of permission to think for themselves. Their main concern is doing something wrong. Computer programming requires the ability to creatively solve problems, which means making a lot of "mistakes" and then learning from them. Whatever schools have been doing in the last 5-10 years has dumbed kids down to the point that they cannot think for themselves. It is very very sad and hard to turn around by the time they get to me. I will support whatever gives kids the chance to think, mess up and learn what it is they are interested in. PS...I have never once needed to know how many sides a rhombus has...what has been helpful is to know where I would find that info should I need it and what to do with it once I have it.

leslie said...

Why do I keep humming a Pink Floyd tune?

MamaBird said...

Ah, you rock. Will get on my friends and family who have Congressional representation to do something about that. One of my favorite things about my DD's new kindergarten teacher is that she takes the kids out for 3 recesses (sometimes 4!). I about did a backflip when she confessed.

Diane MacEachern said...

When my son was in 6th grade science class, he studied elementary physics (pulleys, simple machines, catapults, FUN science). Two years later, when my daughter got to 6th grade and NCLB had hit, she spent 9 weeks simply charting the phases of the moon. That's all. Just looking at the moon. Forget having any meaningful biology and ecology classes. Meanwhile, the overall environmental education budgets have been slashed at most schools, but some communities and government leaders are making time to teach "intelligent design" along with evolution. Home school, anyone?

Mindful Momma said...

I'm worried that my kids are going to be bored to tears memorizing all that crap. Diane's science example is very's the FUN science that will stick in their heads and be a building block for the future - not the boring charts.

sentient being said...

Thanks for reminding me how many sides a rhombus has. After all those standardized tests I had completely forgotten how important that is.

eco 'burban mom said...

I meant to comment on this the other day... My oldest son, now in 7th grade, had a severe speech problem from preschool until almost second grade. Guess what? He's fine now and just won't EVER shut up! Be careful what you ask for! LOL

All kidding aside, the indiviualized therapy plan the public school created for him and followed through every single week was a godsend. Fight for it burbs, it's worth it!

Robj98168 said...

Whats a rhombus? What is it for? THe never tought us that fancy stuff at Highline Community College