To fund his No Child Left Behind (NCLB) project, President Bush has proposed to cut two federal programs that have been serving Clatsop County for nearly 12 years. Educational Talent Search (ETS) and Upward Bound (UB) are two programs that prepare students for success in college and post-secondary training programs. These two programs serve about 700 Clatsop County students per year.
ETS and UB serve economically disadvantaged students and those whose parents have not earned a bachelor's degree. Ironically, these are precisely the students who are "left behind" because of unfeasibly high caseloads that prevent school counselors from being able to provide the intensive, individual and smallgroup attention to students that ETS and UB do. ETS and UB provide in-depth instruction in college preparatory work, academic advising, ACT and SAT test preparation, career exploration and assistance with financial aid to pay for college.
In contrast, NCLB serves children by testing them in reading and math. It rewards schools that show high rates of students passing standardized tests in these areas and punishes those that do not show desired results. NCLB is based on the Texas educational model that was developed under Bush's administration as governor. In the years after Bush's "Texas Miracle" went into effect, several incidences of schools fabricating data to continue receiving state funding have come to light in the national media. Other studies have shown that students in Texas tested high on standardized state assessments. However, these same students' SAT and ACT test scores went down. The SAT and ACT are the two tests that U.S. colleges use to gauge a student's readiness to do college-level work. According to The Houston Chronicle, the difference in test results was the product of schools "teaching to the test" at the expense of preparing students for college.
Every day, I see the successes and challenges of my Upward Bound students as I work with them in the schools. Am I biased toward keeping these programs running in Clatsop County? Absolutely! Not only because I love my job and I love watching and hearing about the accomplishments of my students, but also because I am an Upward Bound success story. I was a child with mediocre grades from a poor, single-parent family. I would not have made it through college and onto the successful career I have today without Upward Bound. I see myself in my students and know that I can look them in the eyes and tell them that these programs truly work.
We are in a world that is evolving faster than we could have ever imagined. For many of our neediest students, programs like Upward Bound and Talent Search provide a bridge between high school and the education that will open doors of opportunity for them. I hope you will contact our senators, Smith and Wyden, as well as our state representative, David Wu, and urge them to fight to retain these valuable programs that truly keep the youth of Clatsop County from being left behind.