Email L. Henry Platt, Jr.
AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESSWOMAN ROSA DELAURO
Dear Cgwm. Rosa DeLauro,
You and I have worked together in the past for common goals, but in the matter of "No Child Left Behind" I think you have missed the concept. My daughter, Mrs A. P. Avallone serves in a high position of the federal implementation of this Act. The purpose of this law is not to saddle students with poor report cards, but identify those students who need help to keep up with their class.
Anecdotally, (when Harry Truman was President) a close friend of mine repeated the third grade (partly because he was almost a year younger than many of his peers). He went on to college and a successful career supporting a satisfying and comfortably affluent life. Without this help he might not have found this success.
In college the future President Warren G. Harding succeeded only with exceptional help from his mother. She did more for him than most fine tutors, but he graduated from college, went on to law school, and you know the rest. Had Warren not had the dedicated family he did, we would never have known him.
The purpose of "No Child Left Behind" is not to embarrass any student but to identify those students who need help and to provide it. If a student is in the fifth grade functioning at a third grade level, he has probably not been identified - and he has certainly not been helped. To give this child an easy test will not prepare him for sixth grade or success as an adult.
Then Governor George W. Bush also instituted a program in Texas allowing the students in the top 10% of their high school class automatic acceptance into state colleges and universities as space allowed. This allowed high achievers from every school a chance to go to college. A High School Diploma needs to demonstrate that the student has earned it - that's what "No Child Left Behind" is intended to do. Unfortunately, there are many graduates of New Haven County high schools who cannot remember five Presidents of the United States who served between George Washington and George H. W. Bush. The object of "No Child Left Behind" is that every high school senior in our county can complete this exercise before he graduates.
"Mainstreaming" is the other end of educational design; and although it is noble to expose even the slowest student to the latest science and the most profound philosophy, it would probably be wasted because he couldn't begin to appreciate it. In the final analysis students generally thrive best when they study with peers of similar abilities. To develop his game successfully a novice tennis player needs to play opponents who are at least slightly more skillful than he.
There is a balance between "No Child Left Behind" and "Mainstreaming", but just allowing a slower student to take an easier version of a test doesn't really help anyone.
© L. Henry Platt, Jr.