Gothamist remembers many things about elementary school...paper airplane experiments, painting murals in art class, playing the clarinet (poorly). What would our education have been without all those exciting activities that reached beyond reading, writing and 'rithmatic? Well, it would have been an education under George Bush's No Child Left Behind policy (not so affectionately called 'Every Child Left Behind' by many educators). Nationwide, schools are cutting everything but the basics in order to satisfy the reading and math times called for by NCLB. Wait, let's clarify...schools that are testing low are making cuts. Yes, UWS and Park Slope, your kids are fine.
Here, our top performing (read wealthiest) schools are exempt from the citywide required 'prototype'. The rest are required to teach according to a strict schedule that dictates minute by minute the day's activities. Right now, our city schools have a 135 minute literacy block and a 70 minute math block. Now, NCLB is saying that even more time should be given to reading and math. Ok, add 50 minutes for lunch...that's already more than half the school day. What about gym, art, science, social studies, not to mention recess?! Maybe the federal department of education and our own DoE need to think about quantity vs. quality. Should NYC students in low performing schools miss out on all the extras? Should their day be 10 hours long instead of six and a half?
This move away from a diverse curriculum seems opposed to the Mayor's commitment to small, specialized secondary schools made earlier this year. These secondary schools encourage a broad range of skills, as opposed the bare bones primary curriculum. NCLB is also making testing a booming business. With every child from third to eighth grade taking standardized tests. Those test results, by the way, are available to anyone.
Gothamist believes children are the future... and is scared.