NCLB Hurts Kids

"I was a language arts/theater teacher for 30 years in both public and private schools, and I now work as the Curator of Education at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center. I have witnessed first hand the toll that test taking has taken on children throughout our city.

In order to please in the test taking realm, our city district has systematically eliminated the arts from the curriculum because 'they are not tested'. Children no longer have an art teacher in any school except the charter schools, and instrumental music has been eliminated through 5th grade. And, I have had teachers tell me that social studies/history subjects are falling by the wayside as well.

We see every day the effects of this on children who come to the museum (if they are allowed to come on a field trip to the children's museum that was named #2 in the nation by CHILD magazine).

  • The majority of children no longer exhibit an imagination, nor do they know how to play. Their eyes are dull, and their ability to see the beauty in life has been sadly dimmed.

On Fridays, hundreds of children (K-5) are released from Pueblo City Schools at 1:30pm while teachers hold inservice; many of those days focused on CSAP workshops. It seems children and teachers are always preparing for it, going into it, taking it or debriefing from it-several months in total. The scores of each school are published on the front page of The Pueblo Chieftain, and teachers are judged by how their students do on a one time a year event!

Because of the early Friday release, the arts center has started a YOUNG AT ART Afterschool Program where students can take 4 arts classes from retired but Colorado licensed teachers. We have kept the cost ($15 per week-$3.75 a class) to below babysitting rates, and half of our 109 currently registered students are on part or full scholarships. We have turned no child away. Students can take guitar, band, music and movement, dance, theater, hand building clay, wheel throwing, the Crayola Afterschool Art program, cartooning, weaving and choir. We are now out of space to hold children in our arts center facilities, but we will continue as we can.

The arts center is also trying to lead the fight with Arts Advocacy groups, etc. We have shown Daniel Pink's film, "A Whole New Mind" and held open forums about the elimination of the arts…but to little effect."

"The district continues to let us know that the test is the key to the entire curriculum. Everything else is a 'frill' if not tested by the state."

Gary Holder,
Curator of Education
Sangre de Cristo Arts Center
Pueblo, Colorado

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