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Walking to D.C.

August 9, 2010
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Headlines like “Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds” and “Schools paying for tutors with mixed track record” don’t surprise Dr. Jesse Turner, a professor of reading and language arts at Central Connecticut State University. In the course of his work as director of CCSU’s Literacy Center, he has witnessed and felt deep opposition to No Child Left Behind. The teachers, students, and parents with whom he works have all expressed to him how frustrated they are by the punitive nature of recent federal education policy. As a literacy expert, he is especially disturbed by the number of reading specialists who now report spending as much or more time administering assessments and tracking student data as they spend on teaching students. Because of what he’s seen, Dr. Turner objects to the hundreds of billions of dollars that states and the federal government have spent on expanding assessment and data systems, implementing pre-packaged curricula and increasing test preparation. He feels that this money should have been spent on proven solutions like smaller class sizes and direct services to the students who need them the most.

In response, he began collecting NCLB resistance stories and presenting them at conferences around the country. The response was so great that he started the “Children are more than test scores” group on Facebook, and as you read this, he is walking–yes, walking– to Washington, D.C. His goal is to collect and share more of those stories with elected officials.

Because we’re all interested in gathering firsthand accounts of what schooling has become as a result of current policy, we’ll be sharing some of those stories here at Failing Schools.  And next Friday, I’ll also travel back to the East Coast to learn more about Dr. Turner’s mission, and to join him in documenting how people feel about current events in public education. We encourage everyone who can to weigh in, and we’ll add more information about where and how to do so throughout the week. Stay tuned!

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