As the father of a Burbank student, I was disheartened to receive a letter, as required by state law, from the principal of McKinley Elementary School, informing parents that for the second year in a row, the school has been placed on academic probation. I was disheartened, but not because my son attends a failing school. McKinley Elementary is a welcoming place staffed with highly dedicated professionals and experts who have helped my autistic son succeed. I was disheartened because under No Child Left Behind, such a wonderful school is now under the gun.

The sanctions against it, which now are limited to offering parents the option of placing their children at other schools, will become more punitive every year it fails to meet its annual goals. And it will not meet them because the testing bar gets higher and higher every year. Morale will plummet as teachers are increasingly pressured to do more than they can. Parents will not want to send their children to the school. Perhaps it will even be taken over by a charter operated by a for-profit corporation, which are notorious for fracturing neighborhoods by accepting only some children while turning others away.

I am fearful that McKinley Elementary, a beacon of hope for my family, will languish, that politicians and big business will force it to fail. For this reason, I was happy to read that Burbank Unified will not be applying for grants under Race to the Top, which many educators call “No Child Left Behind on steroids.” Perhaps there is still hope for our wonderful school.

Vincent Precht
Burbank