Thursday, March 15, 2007

Both Parties Agree! End NCLB Now.

I was watching CSPAN this morning and the host of Washington Journal was holding a call-in segment with a Board of Education member from Iowa. The topic was No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The most interesting response she made was to say that NCLB has put extraordinary pressure on special education students who in many cases receive no special considerations on NCLB standardized tests. And it is these students who bear the brunt of failing school blame and high-pressure remedy. In other words we're adding stress, tension, and absurd expectations on the weakest populations.

So I was heartened to read Dozens in GOP Turn Against Bush's Prized 'No Child' Act by Jonathan Weisman and Amit R. Paley of the Washington Post.

The article contends "Republicans voted for No Child Left Behind holding their noses," said Michael J. Petrilli, an Education Department official during Bush's first term who is now a critic of the law. "But now with the president so politically weak, conservatives can vote their conscience."

I hope every politician in Washington finds the backbone to eliminate this piece of cancerous dreck as soon as possible. Our schools need to be free to catch up with the world and the times. Today under NCLB they are dying a slow, dumbed down, and increasingly irrelevant fate. This is not about Bush or Kennedy. This is just shit law.

Here's what the Republicans have found (and I agree whole-heartedly with their assessment).

Burson Snyder, a spokesman for Blunt, said that after several meetings with school administrators and teachers in southwest Missouri, the House Republican leader turned against the measure he helped pass. Blunt was convinced that the burdens and red tape of the No Child Left Behind Act are unacceptably onerous, Snyder said.

Some Republicans said yesterday that a backlash against the law was inevitable. Many voters in affluent suburban and exurban districts -- GOP strongholds -- think their schools have been adversely affected by the law. Once-innovative public schools have increasingly become captive to federal testing mandates, jettisoning education programs not covered by those tests, siphoning funds from programs for the talented and gifted, and discouraging creativity, critics say.

Under Hoekstra's bill, any state could essentially opt out of No Child Left Behind after one of two actions. A state could hold a referendum, or two of three elected entities -- the governor, the legislature and the state's highest elected education official -- could decide that the state would no longer abide by the strict rules on testing and the curriculum.

The Senate bill is slightly less permissive, but it would allow a state to negotiate a "charter" with the federal government to get away from the law's mandates.

In both cases, the states that opt out would still be eligible for federal funding, but those states could exempt any education program but special education from No Child Left Behind strictures.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said that advocates do not intend to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act. Instead, they want to give states more flexibility to meet the president's goals of education achievement, he said. As a House member in 2001, DeMint opposed No Child Left Behind when it first came to a vote, but he voted for it on final passage.

"So many people are frustrated with the shackles of No Child Left Behind," DeMint said. "I don't think anyone argues with measuring what we're doing, but the fact is, even the education community . . . sees us just testing, testing, testing, and reshaping the curriculum so we look good."
Eliminating NCLB must become a Democratic and Republican priority. As a nation we cannot afford to play politics with this.

Please, please, please tell every politician who has a brain to vote this thing out.

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