As we constructed our “new” curriculum goals, I carried on conversations with teachers and administrators from around the country and started doing more personal research about NCLB. I started getting really pissed… and scared. It was quite clear a lot of good programs were going to be diminished. Since one of the primary tenets of NCLB was that each grade level had to show a certain percentage growth in each of the various “subgroups” (Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, special education students, free and reduced lunch, etc.) or risk being labeled a failing school, it had to mean that school districts would pump a lot more time and resources into bolstering math and communication arts scores. This intense focus on math and English would come at the expense of the sciences, humanities and arts education (always the first to suffer in the name of progress or desperation). Why? Because these were subject areas that were not getting tested.
Although other school districts around the country were clearly dealing with the wrath of the NCLB law due to low test scores, my daughters’ school district and the district in which I taught were now dealing with it head on. Perhaps they already had been since the inception of the law, and maybe it was simply teachers like me were just now recognizing that it would be directly impacting how and what we taught. I did not have a problem with radically revamping the way we looked at student achievement and evaluating teachers in a more holistic manner. My frustration and anger were over the stupidity of NCLB and the fact that it was written by politicians with minimal input (any?) from classroom teachers. Any experienced classroom teacher would have immediately recognized that the mandates set forth by the law were impossible to achieve and that every school district in the country would eventually receive a failing score. Every teacher’s job security would also be in danger.
I wanted to do something that would light a fire under myself and others to help strike a blow to the NCLB Act. I thought about creating a blog to vent and develop a following of other people who felt like I did, and maybe, just maybe enough people would band together to incite some kind of positive change to NCLB. I took a personal day and went out to lunch with my wife. We talked a long time about the kind of topics I would cover. Her concern was that my idea of putting together a collection of my creative nonfiction stories would end up never getting done. I thought there could be some way of combining the two, but since I had been writing funny (at least, that was my intent) stories about myself, what the hell could be funny about NCLB? Plenty, as it turned out.