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Re-educating Squirrels

And when you finally get off the wheel, you sip from the chrome nipple, grab a kibble and snuggle down in your bed of wood shavings …

That was a comment on the post beneath this from a friend whose intent, I’m certain, was to entertain me after a long and hectic day of teaching. Unfortunately after reading it, I read the news article just below and the two mingled together in my mind, triggering my ever increasing sense of futility.

Nevada Near The Bottom In Education Survey
01-04-2007 4:41 AM

(Reno, NV) — Nevada ranks near the bottom in a new national report on education. The “Quality Counts” report by “Education Week” magazine ranks Nevada 44th out of the 50 states when it comes to such issues as student proficiency in math and reading, and for relatively low graduation rates. Nevada also ranks low when it comes to a student’s chance of going through school and college on the way to a good-paying job. But state education officials say Nevada’s results are skewed by the fact that the Las Vegas Valley makes up nearly 80 percent of the state’s student body. The Clark County School District is the fifth-largest in the nation, and is dealing with such issues as tremendous growth and a rising non-English student population.

Copyright 2007 Metro Networks Communications Inc., A Westwood One Company

Research in second language learners tells us that it takes students an average of five years to consistantly comprehend a casual conversation in English. Research further indicates that it takes another two years to for the second language learner to be able to wholly comprehend academic language. Despite reams of research gathered over the past couple of decades, our esteemed government, lead by our Fearful Leader, Dubya, passed the No Child Left Behind Act, demanding that every child in a U.S. school be fully competent in English within three years of enrolling in the system.

On one hand, I suppose I should be pleased that my government has so much faith in my ability to teach. Unfortunately I can’t enjoy that delusion because I know where the real learning difficulty lies, and I don’t have access to the Oval Office.

If you are interested in reading more on this topic read:

No Child Left Behind, One Teacher’s Perspective


FP Update: Must Be Spring, The Teachers Are Leaving

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Hull, the city I live in and the council I work for has just produced a plan for the future of all children in the city, It’s called “No Child Left Behind”. Clearly a popular title, but as you point out it will only work with the right methods and the right people.

  2. Quilly – I understand your discouragement. I know there may not be a lot that you can do to change the big picture, but I’m sure you’re making a difference to the kids in your classroom. Hang in there 🙂

  3. Bazza — I hope that they don’t start teaching programs instead of children. That’s what has happened here.

    Rob — some days that is small comfort

  4. SAometimes the government tries and fails. It gets a low grade. One of the problem s is that the parents dpn’t want to learn English. My father, and his brother and two sisters all started life in Finnish. But his parents did not want the school to learn Finnish they wanted the children to learn English. All four kids became college graduates fluent in two languages.

  5. because I know where the real learning difficulty lies, and I don’t have access to the Oval Office.

    I respectfully disagree. GWB didn’t elect himself, hanging chads notwithstanding. We the People put the Government in place, therefore We the People are responsible for what our Government does.

    Right now, We the People are lacking in the ability to dialogue. Most of us are too busy with the likes of American Idol to be bothered. Most of the remainder are too busy arguing over trivia or narrow points of self-interest to derail the core that put GWB, and NCLB, in place. So long as that situation persists, there will be no progress.

    There’s a name for this situation we find ourselves in. It’s decadence. Historians have railed against decadence and its consequences since the Roman Empire.

    But, as we all know, history is bunk.

  6. Dr. John — perhaps if they’d listen to the experts ..?

    OC — you’re rght. I was too busy being angry at Bush for pushing that bill to remember how he got the clout to do so in the first place.

  7. Blogger ate my comment. I don’t think Bsh’s 3 year plan is the real problem either. Like Dr. John, I grew up with a second language in the home. But we were expected to know both languages. And my mother and her friends did not expect the school system to change for us or society to change for them. They strived to learn English very well.

  8. I understand what your frustration level is like. We get upset with the way not only our federal government dumps on education but now our state is as well especially with a new State Superintendent of Public Instruction who has no background what so ever in education. The next 4 years will definitely be interesting.

  9. Gary — OC is right, we have access — it’s called voting. I just forgot that for a second.

    Nessa — NCLB scantions the teacher if the student doesn’t learn. In other words, if my student doesn’t learn in 3 years what tested and retested research says should take 5-7, it is my fault.

    Angela — guess I won’t be moving back home, huh? Hmmm …. How much pull do you have in hiring?

  10. I have lots. I help with the hiring and firing, but do you really miss Lewiston that much that you would come back to a salary of just around $40,000?

  11. Depends — what’s the average rent on a two bedroom house? Currently my car insurance is $150.00 per month. That’s what I paid per quarter in Idaho. We can’t drink water out of the tap — well, they say we can, but once you smell it, you’ve no wish to taste it. And truly, I don’t miss Lewiston, but I do have a lot of friends in the vacinity.

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