I vent here a lot about conditions at my school, and I get frustrated with things at my school, but I don’t really fully “blame” the administrator. Being a principal at a normal school is stressful enough. My father was a principal. I grew up watching what the pressures of his job did to him. I got my masters in administration, but elected not to pursue it. I knew how much stress came with the job from my father, and learned more about it during the Masters program. And I don’t teach at a “normal” school, if there is such a thing. Our school, and for that matter, both of the schools I have spent my career at, are “at-risk” schools. No Child Left Behind has really put the squeeze on under-performing (by their definition)schools. As we get deeper into NCLB, and the number of years of failing to make adequate progress pile on, State monitoring becomes progressively more intrusive into the daily operation of the school. Some of the recent things have almost been ludicrous. We are required to do everything they say or suggest, and some of it makes no sense. I blame NCLB more than anything. It was NOT put together by educators that teach children. You cannot legislate success. You cannot pass a law and make special needs children perform or progress at the same level and speed as children that don’t have the special needs. You can not pass a law that makes non-english speakers fluent in English and have them score on the same levels as students who have no language barrier. As we fail to achieve the goals of NCLB, more and more it appears that the teachers will become the scape goats for its failure. That’s what is politically correct, and that’s what the politicians will try to do.
Yet NCLB is inherently flawed in a number of ways. The growth should be measured, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. How far did the kids move in that one year, instead, as is the case with many of our second language kids, start the year so far behind, that you can have amazing, even fantastic growth and still have it not be enough. You can also have a kid that is in multiple categories, you can have a second language learner, who is also in an ethnic group who also receives special services such as Speech. That one child, if under performing, can help make a school inadequate in not one category, but all three. They in effect are counted three times. We were rated inadequate two years ago literally by one student. Forget all the hard work of all the other 850 students. Then in our district, if your school is inadequate, you can choose a better performing school to go to, and the district will bus you there for free. Since the students who most likely take that option, are the ones with parents more involved with their education, it creates a “brain drain” at the under performing school, making it even more difficult to make adequate yearly progress. The whole process is wrong. It’s a recipe for failure.