Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Legislatures, Governors, and wonks

There's a lot going on right now.

(1) The National Council of State Legislatures released their 77-page report detailing proposed changes to No Child Left Behind. No doubt Spellings will not be pleased. I'm working my way through it (click here for executive summary, here for whole document) and the recommendations seem entirely sensible to me for the most part. The highligt so far: I was wrong when I asserted that the federal government has the right to withhold federal Title I funds for schools that opt out of NCLB. I argued that the courts had consistently stood by that right of the federal government. According to the NCSL, that's not so.

The courts ruled in South Dakota v. Dole that Congress may use inducements but not coercion to attain state compliance. Last week, the feds told Utah that if they opt out of NCLB, they will lose not only Title I funds but also funds for after school, drug free school, and literacy programs. Lawsuit anyone?

(2) The National Governor's Association will have a summit this weekend to focus on redesigning American high schools. I've written about this effort before and I think it's an important one. I'll be keeping a close eye on stories from the summit.

(3) Eduwonk wrote yesterday that he will be joining Virginia's State Board of Education as a Mark Warner appointee. First of all, I congratulate Mr. Wonk (really Andrew Rotherham) and congratulate the people of Virginia. Clearly, Eduwonk lives up to his name: he knows his ed policy.

But I must say I find it curious. Mark Warner has been a critic of NCLB, saying in the past that Virginia's Standards of Learning were better than the NCLB mandated standards and that NCLB actually led to a watering down of Virginia's curriculum. He also said that reauthorization of NCLB in Bush's second term would be "the perfect storm." Rotherham, by contrast, has been one of the controversial Act's most consistent cheerleaders.

Well, there's more, but I'm tired. I'll definitely write more about the specific recommendations of the NCSL tomorrow. A few weeks ago, Jenny D. challenged me to recommend specific changes for NCLB. This gives me -- gives everyone -- a great point of reference for that very important conversation.

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