National Education Association Prez Calls for Equity Among Schools

NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia says No Child Left Behind tied the hands of teachers who wanted to be creative.
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The head of America’s largest labor union addressed the Cleveland City Club today (Fri).  

Lily Eskelsen Garcia is a former Teacher of the Year for the state of Utah but now heads the National Education Association that represents teachers.

Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports she came with answers.


The question Lily Garcia gets a lot is “what single thing” will improve our schools.  She says there is no single thing but in 2002 Congress decided there was.

 “ No Child Left Untested.” 

Garcia refers to the George W.  Bush era's “No Child Left Behind” legislation as a “test and punish” education system.  She says the best turnaround schools instead allow teachers to use their creativity to foster a passion for learning in kids.

“Everywhere we’ve seen it work it’s because we’ve humanized education not mechanized it, not standardized it.”

Garcia points to the top scoring school system in the world, Finland, as a model.  The Finns revamped their schools in 1980 to eliminate the gap between rich schools and poor schools. 

In America, says Garcia, a school in one zip code may have everything.

“And the kids in this zip code don’t get recess; they get test prep.  We’ve forgotten to talk equity in programs and services and who has a school librarian, a school nurse, counselors and who doesn’t?”

The Finns even eliminated private schools so that rich people are invested in public schools.  Garcia doesn’t want to do that but says privatizing education does not help students.

"I don’t have to tell you about the scandals, the waste, the fraud, in Ohio’s experiment with the now billion charter school dollar industry.” 

Lily Garcia’s answer is to follow Finland whose main goal is equity, so that the programs and facilities at every public school will be as good as the best public school.  

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