Does Uncle Sam Belong in the Classroom?

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The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Georgia has been granted a waiver releasing them from the “No Child Left Behind” Federal program that required all children be at grade level in reading and math by 2014. So far, 10 states have received waivers, and 28 more have applied for relief from the law’s burdensome requirements and testing. An entire school could be penalized for not meeting requirements, labeling them and their teachers as “failures.” With this kind of pressure, teachers taught to the tests more than emphasizing the overall education of their
students. The result was a “lose-lose” situation all around.

A job in education is more of a calling to the thousands of dedicated teachers across the country. They spend a lot of time in the classroom, before and after school hours sponsoring activities, coaching and counseling students, serving on committees and attending school and parent meetings. They spend their own money when tight school budgets don’t cover the supplies or fees they need. They often handle large class enrollments single-handedly, dealing with a wide range of learning abilities, personalities, and behavior and attention levels. Not to mention the problem students and over-bearing parents. Do educators need Uncle Sam in the classroom as well?

The disappointing reality is many students are not on grade level in reading or math. Parents are
turning to charter schools or home schooling to take more control over the course of their children’s education. Each of these alternatives has their value, but for the vast majority of U.S.
students, public education is their only opportunity to learn what they need to be productive, independent citizens. There are great opportunities for those in education to introduce creative ideas to succeed where “No Child Left Behind” failed.

1.  Back to the basics. Not necessarily a new concept, but more focus on those basic skills that make a person functional in society. My favorite motto is, “If you can read, you can do anything.” I’m not a mechanic or handyman, but I put together a set of wrought iron patio furniture by reading the instruction sheet. It had a drawing of the four items used to connect the top of the chairs to the legs, and a short explanation of how to assemble the round table
2.  Repetition. Repetitive learning may be boring to some, but there is something about it that puts a person in a familiar rhythm and helps with memory. Who didn’t learn their ABC’s by singing them to that familiar tune? Alzheimer’s patients lose their memory, but often can sing the words to a song. It’s the music, the rhythm that somehow ignites something the memory can’t touch.
3.  Independent judgment. Teachers know their students better than a Federal program’s test requirements. Teachers should have the opportunity to be creative and make decisions on what they know will inspire a child to learn. There are already enough guidelines for educators.
We don’t need Uncle Sam to bring in the full weight of the Federal government with regulations and consequences for not reaching unrealistic goals. Leave the education to the educators.

How would you solve the problem of meeting learning standards? Share your thoughts in the
Comment section below.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and helping clients discover what they love and spend their life on it. You can read more of her blogs at and view additional job postings on Nexxt

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