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20 Years Since 'No Child Left Behind' ACT and Children are more behind than ever

Guest Feature: LaMailede Assata Moore (Our Trouble Making - Giver or no Damns Friend) 

I’ll Knock All This ‘ish Over

Chances are, that after reading this piece if you’re a non-educator you may not like me. And if you are an educator, you will not be too pleased either. Why are we in this mess of a situation with CPS, and quite frankly, education nationally? In the simplest terms possible, although not the nicest way to put it, it’s because we’ve been average, complacent, idiots for way too long. My apologies for the harshness, blame Frank. Let me explain in more respectful detail.

Our educational system is imploding on itself like a dilapidated building on the South Side of Chicago that’s been ignored by every mayor since no one can remember. Teachers have been screaming for help for decades. Their screams have been ridiculed and scolded. They get less of what they ask for each year. 

It has been twenty years since the NCLB act was enacted - more children than ever are behind.

They’re behind because of the educational system that they depend on to prepare them for…wait, what is this system supposed to be preparing them for? I’m staring down a rabbit hole with a myriad of problems. I’ll come back to that. They are behind because the educational system is behind and it spends billions each year to fall further behind. 

The MEAP, NWEA, IAR, ACT, SAT, BBD nor the OPP (yeah you know MEEEE ), can determine if a student will be successful in life, yet we spend a significant portion of taxpayer dollars (but nowhere near what we spend on the military) to test students multiple times per year, every year. In essence, we know testing is meaningless yet we stress educators to no end while dropping a fat bag to pay for it.

We’re still teaching most of the same subjects in the same sequence per grade as we did in the early 1900s. Our school calendar still reflects that of the wealthy. During the early times when there was no air conditioning, the elite would take vacations during the summer. In fact, school wasn’t mandatory and students would report when they could. Our desks are still set up to resemble that of an assembly line. I believe that most people think that school should be preparing students for a career, equipping them with basic life skills, and helping them to better understand how their government and society work. If social media posts are any indication of efficacy, we’re failing. So, how do we get a win?

We first need to redefine the purpose of school. We’ve been asking way too much. Most teachers aren’t capable of teaching their subject matter with any real deep conceptual understanding. Let’s just all be honest with ourselves so that we can solve problems. If you were to give teachers the ACT, their average would be similar to their students' average. They are not prepared to do what we want them to do. We need better teacher training and we need specialists. This can’t happen without holding colleges accountable the same way we hold elementary and high schools accountable. I’m saying our universities suck too. Oh, and teachers also need to be paid a minimum of $100,000. We can afford it.

Schools are not a one-stop-shop to teach these kids everything in life they need to know. That’s what parents, places of worship, community, sports, etc. are for. The purpose of schools should be very simple and focused - teaching math, reading, and thinking. That’s it!  

They can use other subjects as topics to practice their math, reading, and thinking. It’s simply too much that’s being asked. If we did this properly, they can learn everything they need to learn in order to choose a career by 8th grade, specialize during what we presently call the high school years, spend senior year working with an elected official, work paid internships during their college years and learn about finance, relationships, and wealth at ages twenty-three to twenty-five. Then we will have the adults we so desperately need and not these booboise folks that currently run CTU, CPS, our city, and our households. We are grossly failing our students and we all play a part in it, from the parents that love their phones more than they love spending time with their children to the teachers complaining about catching Covid but still catching flights, to the elected officials that don’t have basic conflict resolution skills and prefer politics over progress. We are failing.

Zoom school is not working. Our students are forgetting how to socialize. We’re protecting them in all the wrong ways. Let them go outside and play in the dirt so that they won’t get sick as often. Allow them to get talked about without the adults wanting to have a physical fight - it teaches them grit and how to resolve conflict. Take their phones away. Have actual thought-provoking conversations with them. Watch a great movie with them. Help them understand how politics and economics are keeping them from getting a real education. And if you’re a black household, you should be discussing how the oppressor will never teach you the tools to free yourself and you should be working with your family to give your children a real education that does not denigrate who they are and what they’re capable of.

Our schools should be open. Teachers need to chill. CPS and CTU need to stop playing politics; the fact that they can never get along is disturbing. And we should stop expecting our politicians to understand or even care about education. Until parents take education seriously, they can't expect anyone else to. Thus, our education system is a reflection of our dark historical past, collective family values, and political priorities. It's not about children.

Don't worry about your child being behind, they're all behind.


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