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Bush Gives Credit NCLB for Test Gains, But Critics Express Doubts

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President Bush today joined the chorus of NCLB supporters who say the law is the reason for the positive results on the National Assessment of Education Progress.

"What all this means is No Child Left Behind Act is working for all kinds of children in all kinds of schools in every part of the country," the president said in New York City this morning.

But critics aren't convinced. FairTest has released its formal response, saying that NAEP increases were "significantly greater" before NCLB (from 2000 to 2003) than after.

"That deflates the administration’s claims that federal law is driving school improvement," Monty Neill, a co-executive director of FairTest, said in this news release.

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The way to get and keep high quality teachers is to offer competitive full ride scholarships to education majors similar to what is given to top athletes and then support those majors through college with special seminars, early internships, community service and enrichment programs just for them.

Then when they start working, if a teacher graduated with a degree in education she (or he) should automatically get a supplement of $2000, above what an alternately certified person would get. This should be built into the revision of NCLB and be federally funded.

Finally, if a teacher intends to stay in the field she should be required to start working on a Masters by her third year of employment and be finished by her 7th except for hardship cases---pregnancy, a elderly disabled family member for whom she is primary care giver, serious personal illness, a child with a disability or multiple births conceived naturally. These could be given an extra 2 years. With the M.ED should come at least a $5000 raise and automatic forgiveness of any loans taken out to go to grad school. An alternative for those who are not graduate school material might be National Certification but if she gets both, her bonus should be doubled. And if a person does not get the advanced degree he or she should be paid less.

Finally, any teacher willing to teach in a high needs school or in special education---and get certified in that area with a specialty, should automatically get a bonus of at least $5000 for each year in either situation or $10,000 if she is both high needs and special ed. If she stays 5 years, an additional bonus is in order.

All alternately certified teachers should be required to have education degrees by their 5th year in education. Teach For America service should be extended from 2 years to 5 years so that the schools will benefit from well trained teachers that they have spent time and energy training. They should have to stay in high need schools for their entire 5 years and have an education degree by then. It takes at least 3 years to learn your job and so they are often gone before they have time to get good at what they do. If they have to stay 5 years, the schools get 2-3 years of quality teaching from them. Energy and intelligence is not everything. This is a science and you have to know what you are doing.

Retention is an important way to improve NCLB. If your teachers know wht they are doing, the students are more likely to do well. Alternately certified teachers are like having a heart bypass done by a medical student.

The 140 national education, civil rights, and religous groups that Monty Neill states that have organized together to rally against education reform and specifically NCLB are known as the "Campaign for the Education of the Whole Child." That, boys and girls, is a campaign promoted and funded by the NEA (largest teacher union in the country) and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, both of whom, by the way, are significant contributors to Neill's duplicitous organization, Fair Test. This guy is an alarmist, an extremist, and 98% of what he epouses should be taken with a grain of salt. Whenever the term "whole child" is raised, you can bet the NEA, the MTA, and Fair Test are attempting to ram down someone's throat the notion of minimum, alternative, or no accountability for schools and students. Accountabilty, hard evidence that someone is and someone else is not learning, scares these folks to death.

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