Sunday, September 16, 2007

No Child Left Behind & My Rather Large Behind

Three weeks into school and already I feel as pressed as a dried flower squashed and forgotten in one of those classic-looking books. (You know, the ones that adorn bookshelves, not necessarily for reading pleasure, but strictly for looks?) This whole pressed and squashed thing got me thinking about the similarities between the No Child Left Behind law and my rather large behind–which, by the way, I truly would like to leave behind.

Now, I hope this will be blessedly short and sweet because progress reports loom ominously on the horizon. For you non-educators and non-Texans, that means papers have to be graded and those grades duly recorded by law at the three-week mark. At this moment in my frazzled existence, neither the jolly red grading giant nor the ruby-red rubric fairy has yet to darken my classroom door with an offer of assistance. Sigh.

But before we tackle this behind-thing, here’s a big disclaimer… This is not a political rant and I am not a political pundit. Rather, it’s an observation of similarities and coincidences…

Point #1…Let me say that I have never read the 670 page 1.8-MB file that contains the law, but trust me, I don’t need to see it to know it’s huge–just like I don’t need to dust off the bathroom scale hidden in the back of my closet to weigh in on my back side.

Point #2…
Sadly, despite our most valiant efforts as teachers, realistically there is no way to save every school and every child. School administrators and politicos must have all attended the same seminar somewhere and heard the “Starfish” story, got teary-eyed and vowed to save each and every washed up urchin, thus sparking the birth of EUs (Educational Utopians). I must admit that I, too, have succumbed and spent hours tossing the creatures back in only to look up and realize that for every one returned safely another 10 washed back up. Which, in some twisted way, all oddly parallels the hours expended in my aerobics class. For every calorie I burn, I probably eat two more when I return home famished.

Point #3…Accountability is important in every facet of life. Education shouldn’t be an exception. Apparently accountability provides the cornerstone for the hundreds of pages devoted to this law. At the risk of sounding callous, don’t we need to factor in personal responsibility at some point? It’s easy to play the blame game and cry victim. I do the same thing. It’s those evil marketing ploys that make me grab the chocolate, shout supersize, gulp lattes and want more, more, more.

I swear sometimes I should just slap myself silly.

Point #4…Despite all the rumblings and grumblings, No Child Left Behind will be here awhile–as will my, ahem, wide load.

But let’s end this on a positive note, I’ve traveled frequently with kids, and never once left one behind. ;-)

So, it’s all good after all.

Unless, of course, I start beeping when I back up.


Anonymous said...

I'm not backing up, I just beep spontaneously.
J. Droll

Dennis Fermoyle said...

I loved your post, Richie. My wife runs the Weight Watchers program in our town, so I'm familiar with the frustration of the "large behinds," too. I think she does a great job, and Weight Watchers is generally considered the most effective weight loss program, but it's a good thing they aren't expected to have a 100% success rate.

Joel said...

Nice parallels. Now stop thinking and get back to work! Make sure everything is graded by 3:30 Friday, and have your grades verified by 1:30 on Tuesday. :)

If not, us band director people and the coaches and everyone else will be upset at you!

Anonymous said...

A humorous take on a decidedly unfunny state of affairs. I would like to hear from educators, however, on one isse you raised. Where, exactly, is a school where educators have no accountability, or so little accountability that federal intervention is required? Where is this mythic institution where teachers may do whatever they please, engage in all manner of mal and misfeasance and in general, wallow in abject incompetence? I certainly can't do any of that, nor do I know of anyplace where it is done.

Could NCLB, instead of an informed, serious attempt to solve real educational problems be nothing more than a cheap political ploy? Oh, how could I be so cynical? No inside the beltway politician would ever stoop so low as to impose draconian, unnecessary regulations where they're not needed and persist in the face of clear evidence of all manner of debilitating unintended consequences. Would they?

askthehomediva said...

I think those mythic institutions are in the same place where those mythic teachers are who daily tell children they are worthless…(I talk about those in "Snake Oil and Motivational Speakers")… must be in some parallel universe…certainly not in mine and certainly not where anyone I know teaches.

But one thing I find interesting is that from talking to some of our peers in other states, Texas does seem to have a higher accountability bar… notice I used the word "seems" as this is entirely anecdotal information.

loonyhiker said...

These were great analogies and I needed a dose of humor to add to my already plate of frustration at the "powers that be."