Ed Chronicles: Yes, But Are They Learning to Read?


Yesterday, a lot of LA’s activist Teachers were emailing and Tweeting a link to the open letter to US Education Secretary, Arnie Duncan, by veteran educator and author turned US senator, Herbert Khol. It speaks to the question of why American educators who love teaching hate No Child Left Behind.

Here is the opening clip:

In a recent interview with NEA Today you said of my book 36 Children,
“I read [it] in high school … [and] … wrote about his book in one of my college essays, and I talked about the tremendous hope that I feel [and] the challenges that teachers in tough communities face. The book had a big impact on me.”

When I wrote 36 Children in 1965 it was commonly believed that African American students, with a few exceptions, simply could not function on a high academic level. The book was motivated by my desire to provide a counter-example, one I had created in my classroom, to this cynical and racist view, and to let the students’ creativity and intelligence speak for itself. It was also intended to show how important it was to provide interesting and complex curriculum that integrated the arts and sciences, and utilized the students’ own culture and experiences to inspire learning. I discovered then, in my early teaching career, that learning is best driven by ideas, challenges, experiences, and activities that engage students. My experience over the past 45 years has confirmed this.

We have come far from that time in the ’60s. Now the mantra is high expectations and high standards. Yet, with all that zeal to produce measurable learning outcomes we have lost sight of the essential motivations to learn that moved my students. Recently I asked a number of elementary school students what they were learning about and the reactions were consistently, “We are learning how to do good on the tests.” They did not say they were learning to read……

Read the rest here.


  • Education is the key to opening the doors of hope and opportunity. Its a shame public school education has come to this. Given the majority my friends are currently public educators, they are all discouraged with the politics of the system but hesitate to leave for fear of the children losing out.

    According to them: No child left behind…means no child gets ahead either.

    Less war, less bombs, more funding for education!

  • The reason that No Child Left Behind was put into place is that children were being left behind. The main difference is that teachers blame the program rather than take responsibility for doing their jobs.

    They’re like those people with bumper stickers that say “War is not the answer.” Well, whatever the protestors were offering as the answer before obviously wasn’t the answer, or we wouldn’t have had to go to war…or, in this case, introduce standards and means of measuring results for the teachers.

    If kids are being taught what they’re supposed to learn, the test results would fall in line. Teaching to the tests is cheating, and teachers shouldn’t condone cheating.

  • For those who aren’t educators…they shouldn’t speak. For all the educators seem to have a common voice and a common message. The students are the ones losing out.

    I don’t care to start a flame war with those unaware of ACTUAL reality. REALITY is what it is and everyone is, no one is arguing about that. Everyone is trying the best they can with the limited resources. Once resources are freed up from needless waste, our future generation will be the main beneficiaries.

    Understandable commenting is a freedom of speech and personal opinions but IGNORANCE is pretty obvious to everyone.

  • CCD: For those who aren’t educators…they shouldn’t speak.

    That’s like saying Obama should keep his mouth shut on military matters since he never served.

    What about this, CCD? Those who are not students or do not have kids in schools (i.e., the customers) should not speak.

    Remember, the customer is always right.

  • Cool, that makes me an expert! I have held an officer title at one of California’s largest universities, plus, have been a student at both public and private universities…
    one of which I’m still a student at. Plus, I hang out with more public and private educators (with varying years of experience and teaching at all grade levels) in this state as well as a few other states, than I ever thought possible. Plus, I’m watching all my friends’ kids grow up in both public and private school.

    Woody, thanks for the comments…today you made the most sense I have ever read.

    BTW, Obama is a elected public official…his opinions count…not yours (thank God) in terms of public policy.

    And yes, I am always right! hehe.

  • For those who aren’t educators…they shouldn’t speak. For all the educators seem to have a common voice and a common message.

    Spoken like a typical educrat

    news to you: education is everyone’s business. The “profession” of education is one of those fields where there is little professionalism and an amazing supply of BS>

    My cousin is a teacher who also hates OCLB. She just got a masters from an Ivy League school in the teaching of literacy. Unfortunatly, the definition of “literacy” they use has nothing to do with reading or comprehension or the ability to express oneself with words. Rather, in a post-modernist move typical of modern educational elite, it has been expanded so that a kid who can’t write, but can draw a pretty picture of a frog, is just as “literate” as one who reads a book a week.

    The country would be better off if we fired ever PhD of Education, shut down the teachers schools, and got back to having literate citizens teach normal subjects, and professionals in appropriate fields (math, science) teach the hard stuff.

    BTW… I agree there are flaws in NCLB. That doesn’t justify the attitude that if you aren’t a teacher, you should shut up.

    Wow, I wouldn’t want to be your student!

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