Randi Weingarten and the National American Federation of Teachers: No Child Left Unhealed

To work, a public school must be active in students' lives before and after class

How many kids are simply being left with their health impaired in big-city schools—even in the all-seeing Michael Bloomberg's New York? I don't know the answer. Don't you think we ought to find out?

In his important book Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (Columbia University Press), Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute makes a life-changing point that both supporters and critics of the endlessly discussed No Child Left Behind law overlook: "Without fully adequate health care for lower-class children and their parents, there is little hope of fully closing the achievement gap." That's a first step—with a lot more to come.

I intend to ask Randi Weingarten what it would take to actually put into practice this and much more of her "community schools" vision. As she knows, with this city's teachers "spending more time doing test prep than teaching science and social studies" thanks to the mandates of No Child Left Behind, there is a multi-class learning problem throughout the school system. Years ago, I was in Schools Chancellor Tony Alvarado's office when the news of a rise in reading scores came in. Despite the news, Alvarado looked troubled.

"When are we going to teach them how to think?" he asked me.

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