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no child left behind

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From: Deb M. (dmortl_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Dec 08 2003 - 14:14:11 PST


I thought this one said it all!! You have to read this!!

Subject: The No Child Left Behind Logic

Take the time to read this. If you don't understand why educators resent the
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, this may help. If you do understand, you'll enjoy
this analogy.

My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He
uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've
got all my teeth. When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if
he'd heard about the new state
program. I knew he'd think it was great.

"Did you hear about the new state program to measure
effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?"I said.

"No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?"

"It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of
cavities each patient has ! at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that
to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as Excellent,
Good, Average, Below average, and Unsatisfactory. That way parents
will know which are the best dentists. It will also encourage the
less effective dentists to get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don't
improve could lose their licenses to practice."

"That's terrible," he said.

"What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we
should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"

"Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is
practicing good dentistry."

"Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."

"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't
all work with the same clientele; so much depends on things we can't
control? For example," he said, "I work in a rural area with a high
percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my
colleagues work in upper middle class neighborhoods. Many of the
parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is
some kind of problem and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also,"
he said, "many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much
candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand
the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off," he added,
"so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has
no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use
of fluoride can make?"

"It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. I couldn't believe my
dentist would be so defensive. He does a great job.

"I am not!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my
work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be
higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am
needed most."

! "Don't' get touchy," I said.

"Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red and from the way he was
clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage
his teeth. "Try furious. In a system like this, I will end up being rated
average, below average, or worse. My more educated patients who see
these ratings may believe this so-called rating actually is a measure of
my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be
left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will
get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists
and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"

"I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse making
and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a leading
member of the DOC," I noted.

"What's the DOC?" he asked.

"It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group m! ade up of
mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved."

"Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't
buy it," he said hopefully.

The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else
would you measure good dentistry?"

"Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes."

"That's too complicated and time consuming," I said. "Cavities are
the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an
absolute measure."

"That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will
think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly.

"Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."

"How?" he said.

"If you're rated poorly, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent
to help straighten you out," I said brightly.

"You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy
clientele to show me how to work on severe juve! nile dental problems
with which I have probably had much more experience? Big help."

"There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at
all."

"You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools
and teachers on an average score on a test of children's progress
without regard to influences outside the school, the home, the
community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something
so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools."

I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened.

"I'm going to write my representatives and senator," he said. "I'll
use the school analogy 7 surely they will see the point."

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