Every year, Williams College seniors nominate a high school teacher who’s had the most influence on their lives, writes Tom Friedman in the New York Times. Four teachers are chosen to be honored at the commencement ceremony. In accepting the honor, Myra Loris, an international releations teacher at Highland Park High School in Illinois, my alma mater, took a shot at No Child Left Behind.
A teacher for 23 years, now nearing retirement, she added, “I just found it very affirming in a Zenlike way,” an acknowledgement “that my days have value, my life has had some worth. Public school teachers don’t get that very often,” especially with No Child Left Behind restrictions, which now require teachers to teach to the tests, and push out the window “all those things that really spark kids imaginations” – like art and music.
Come on, teachers at Highland Park High School aren’t losing their classes in art and music for NCLB preparation classes. If you check out HPHS’s test scores, they’re doing just fine for the great majority of their students. However, the groups that aren’t passing Illinois’s required 11th grade standardized test are the economically disadvantaged,disabled, and Hispanic students. Would Ms. Loris object to money spent to help those students achieve more in reading, writing, and math? The fact that this school has a teacher in international relations is some indication that NCLB has not forced this school to make draconian cutbacks.
Plus, I object to the idea that art and music are the only things that “really spark kids imaginiations.” I think that reading books can also spark those imaginations and, if kids have low reading skills, not only will they miss out on that spark to their imaginations, but they’ll be held back in school and in work for the rest of their lives.
NCLB wasn’t put into effect for rich suburban students whose parents have advanced degrees; it was designed for those students who were getting “left behind.”
This is very true, even if Betsy turns out to be a graduate of our arch-rival, New Trier High. Correction: Betsy went to New Trier only for a year.