Our children deserve better

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We want our children to learn. We want our children to be successful, happy people.

But is the measuring stick of Adequate Yearly Progress the means to that end?
Eight years ago, “No Child Left Behind” was introduced with the best of intentions. But as Los Lunas Superintendent Bernard Saiz so astutely observed, the idea that every child will advance at the same rate is “a lofty goal, but it’s unrealistic.”
Looking at the two articles by our News-Bulletin education reporters, you see words such as “increase” and “gain” in reference to some of the test scores. In some areas, students are meeting the standards while in others they are not.
So the obvious solution is to award the schools that are struggling with fewer federal educational dollars. Surely our schools can do more with less, right?
Each year, the bar of AYP moves higher and higher. As schools fight to catch that brass ring, their funding is being decreased not only due to those low AYP scores, but thanks to an across-the-board 3.2 percent funding decrease from the state.
Every year we hear the same thing. “We missed it by this much!” One student in one subgroup can make or break whether that school achieves the coveted AYP standard.
But what about that one child? If the data is showing that one subgroup, or even one student, is not performing up to standards, wouldn’t the wiser course of action be to provide more resources to that subgroup rather than limiting funding for everyone?
Yes, our children should be moving forward. They should be achieving more and more every year. But what is the message they get when they are told their school failed?
AYP uses the terms of “met” and “not met,” but we all know what “not met” translates to — you failed.
No child, no teacher, no parent wants to be told “you failed.” But they are being told just that. And the penalty is having to do more with less the next year.
The concept of “No Child Left Behind” mirrors the very reason the public school system was established in the first place. Every child should get a basic education for free.
Now, that education is being narrowly tailored to meet 37 points by which every school across the state and the nation is judged. We have to ask ourselves, “Is this really working?” Statewide, 22 percent of our schools passed, but that is almost 10 percent less than last year.
Whether you are a parent or not, you have to look at the current way we measure our students’ success, and ask if it’s the right way. School should be a place where children learn basic skills, but are also reminded that there is a larger world out there and be exposed to opportunities to go explore that world.
Is AYP giving them that? Or is it tethering them to a measurement system that, while well intentioned, is more of a hindrance than a help?
It’s time for all of us to stand up and say that our children and our teachers deserve better. Talk to your school administrators, talk to your legislators.
Find out what needs to be done to change the current system and help bring true education back to our schools.