Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Denver Post advocates changes to NCLB

From yesterday's Denver Post editorial page:

By virtue of its title, you'd think that the Bush administration's cornerstone education initiative, No Child Left Behind, would be immune from criticism. Who, after all, wants to leave a child behind?

Yet the program is under fire, and not only from the usual suspects.

School districts from three states sued the administration last week over No Child's unfunded mandates. The nation's largest teachers union expressed its opposition, too, and Utah's legislature passed a bill that snubs NCLB in favor of the state's own accountability measures - even though the defiance may cost Utah $76 million in federal funding.

Colorado officials are trying to work within the boundaries of NCLB. That's fine so long as the state Department of Education is listening to the criticisms and willing to be flexible about implementing the education act.

In mid-April, Colorado education leaders presented a "white paper" to the state officials recommending changes to how the state implements NCLB. The recommendations are in keeping with the basic accountability tenets of NCLB. But they ask that a "body of evidence" be used to judge students with disabilities, rather than just test results. They also don't want students who can't yet speak English forced into taking tests in English.

We embrace the premise of NCLB, which focuses on classroom achievement of all children, including minorities and those with disabilities. But most states and school districts are struggling with implmentation and funding. Under No Child, otherwise top class schools districts, such as Littleton and Boulder Valley, are deemed failures simply because a relative handful of students with disabilities aren't proficient. Districts are required to meet the unrealistic goal of having 100 percent of all students proficient in reading and math by 2014, or else face sanctions.

After state education officials take up the white-paper recommendations in May, they should seek a waiver from the NCLB provisions that don't make sense for Colorado. Some actually require the state to lower its own standards.

Colorado has been at the forefront of the standards and accountability movement. If the state makes smart adjustments, Colorado can avoid the impressive action by lawmakers in Utah.

They will find in Colorado, as state policymakers all over the country have found, that if they pursue this course, the feds will most likely not compromise at all. Despite the rhetoric about flexibility, little has been granted.

Colorado may be the next state to have serious disputes with Washington over the implementation of NCLB.


Blogger NO NCLB.org said...

And I suspect that you are absolutely right. JF

6:07 PM  
Blogger Jenny D. said...

What do Connecticut and Utah have in common? Both states have among the worst records in the nation in lessening the achievement gap in their states between white and minority children. Oh, and they're also fighting NCLB.

What did folks in Pontiac, Michigan do the last time the federal government ordered them to do something about inequitable schooling for minorities? They dynamited several school buses to protest busing. Oh, and Pontiac is also the lead plaintiff in the anti-NCLB suit.

I see a pattern here. I don't think these plaintiffs are on the side of the angels.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Jenny D. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Brink said...

Yes, all those who oppose NCLB are obviously either racist or flat out evil. Thanks for elevating the discourse.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Jenny D. said...

No, what I said was that these folks have in the past behaved in ways that showed that they do not believe in some of the admirable goals of NCLB. You said they were racist and evil. I used a figure of speech to imply that they weren't necessarily just fighting about funding, but perhaps about the entire spirit of the law, which is to raise achievement levels for disadvantaged kids.

4:11 AM  

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