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1:35 p.m. - 2006-07-02
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Must read for ALL TEACHERS- No Dentist Left Behind
For all the teachers I know...a must read. For everyone else, a great
analogy that explains the "No Child Left Behind" act! I don't know
the person who created this, but it is tremendous!!!

This is so GREAT, and it puts the RIDICULOUSNESS of the "No Child Left
Behind" nonsense into perspective. Be sure to read to the end...

Whether you're a teacher or a friend of one, I hope you all enjoy and
appreciate this.


My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups.
He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and
I've got all my teeth.

When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard
about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.

"Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of
dentists with their young patients?" I said.

" No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?"

"It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of
cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a
dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average,
below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the
best dentists. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to
get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their
licenses to practice."

"That's terrible," he said.

"What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should
try to improve children's dental health in this state?"

"Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is
practicing good dentistry."

Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."

"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't
all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we can't
control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of
patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in
upper middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't
bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I
don't get to do much preventive work. Also many of the parents I serve let
their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated
parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all
off, so many of my clients have well water, which is untreated and has no
fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of
fluoride can make?"

"It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. "I can't believe that
you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job, and
you needn't fear a little accountability."

"I am not being defensive!" he said. "My best patients are as good as
anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count
is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to
work where I am needed most."

"Don't' get touchy," I said.

"Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red, and from the way he was
clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to
damage his teeth. "Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated
average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who
see these ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure
of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be
left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will
get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and
other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"

"I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse-making
and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a
leadingmember of the DOC," I noted.

"What's the DOC?" he asked.

"It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of
mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved."

"Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't
buy it," he said hopefully.

The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you
measure good dentistry?"

"Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes."

"That's too complicated, expensive and time-consuming," I said.
"Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an
absolute measure."

"That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will
think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly.

"Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."

"How?" he asked.

"If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist from a practice
that received anexcellent rating to help straighten you out," I said

"You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele
to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I
probably had much more experience? BIG HELP!"

"There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at

"You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools
and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress
with no regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community
served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No
one would ever think of doing that to schools."

I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. "I'm going to write
my representatives and senators," he said. "I'll use the school analogy.
Surely they will see the point."

He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed
anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so often lately.
If you don't understand why educators still resent the federal NO
CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, this may help. If you do understand, you'll really enjoy
this analogy which was forwarded by:
John S. Taylor, Superintendent of Schools for the Lancaster County,
PA,School District.


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