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'No Child Left Behind' Meets Resistance

January 3, 2004

1. Monday radio show from Florida

Janet Folger's "Faith2Action" radio show from Fort Lauderdale, FL
'Faith to Action' is syndicated on 24 stations across the country.

Monday's Topic: State Academic Standards -- all states have them:
What are they? What do they teach our nation's future? Why they need to change.

Discussion of the book 'FedEd: The New Federal Curriculum and How It's Enforced'

Listen live ON-LINE at www.f2a.org


2. 'No Child Left Behind' Meets Resistance in Connecticut

The 'No Child Left Behind Act' of 2002 made all school districts in America accountable to Washington's federal bureaucracy. NCLB dumbs down the schools by defining success as the same (low) level of achievement for every student. All time and resources are focused on that single level. The NCLB curriculum is also based on a radical federal curriculum.

NCLB is truly "ill-conceived," and some districts in Connecticut are turning down the federal money and refusing to comply. {See article below.) Yet much of the education establishment complains only that they need more money to put it in place - "full federal financing."

Demanding full federal financing for NCLB amounts to an endorsement. If NCLB is "ill-conceived," if federal lawmakers have no constitutional business in education, then it ought to be opposed, not leveraged for more federal money -- money that will make resistance all the more difficult.

Duluth News Tribune

"Educators in most of the nation's 15,000 districts considered several of its requirements ill-conceived."

The beginning of "backlash that will probably swell"?


'No Child Left Behind' meets resistance

READING, Pa. - A small but growing number of school systems around the country are beginning to resist the demands of President Bush's signature education law, saying its efforts to raise student achievement are too costly and too cumbersome.

The school district in Reading recently filed a suit contending that Pennsylvania, in enforcing the federal law, had unfairly judged Reading's efforts to educate thousands of recent immigrants and unreasonably required the impoverished city to offer tutoring and other services for which there is no money.

The law, known as No Child Left Behind and signed in January 2002, seeks to raise achievement by penalizing schools where test scores do not meet annual targets. It is the most sweeping plan to shake up public education in a generation, as well as the most intrusive federal intervention in local schools. But until recently it had provoked little more than grumbling, though polls showed that educators in most of the nation's 15,000 districts considered several of its requirements ill-conceived.

In recent weeks, however, three Connecticut school districts have rejected federal money rather than comply with the red tape that accompanies the law, and several Vermont districts have shifted federal poverty money away from schools to shield them from sanctions.

Some analysts see the scattered actions as the front end of a backlash that will probably swell next year, when early penalties are likely to be imposed on thousands of schools across the nation.

Under the law, every racial and demographic group in each school must meet rising goals on English and math tests to make "adequate yearly progress." If any group fails to reach targets for two years running, a school is labeled "needing improvement," and must provide transportation for students to transfer to higher-scoring schools or pay for tutoring. Continued shortfalls trigger escalating sanctions that culminate in removal of the staff.

It is an accountability system with myriad ways to disqualify schools. This year 26,000 of the nation's 93,000 public schools failed to make adequate yearly progress, according to a teachers union tally, fueling predictions that the law could eventually label nearly all schools as failing. Much opposition is based on the view that the law will require districts to spend large sums to remedy shortcomings in such schools, without full federal financing.


3. Proposed MN Social Studies Standards Giant Leap Forward

St. Paul Pioneer Press - Posted on Sat, Jan. 03, 2004 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: New social studies standards are giant step in right direction

The new social studies standards, released Dec. 19, are a giant step in the right direction for Minnesota students. The mere fact that we are publicly debating actual content shows we are finally serious about remembering our past.

Nearly all of us know appalling anecdotes of how a contentless curriculum has allowed ideology to triumph over learning. The low point, for me, was trying to use speeches by Lincoln as part of a college composition class, and discovering that students had no concept of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott case, the Northwest Ordinance or the original constitutional convention.

I will be blunt: As director of a college humanities program in Western culture, I must assume that Minnesota high school graduates know nothing of the historical origins of our chief concepts: the value of the individual, our notions of beauty, the responsibilities of a superpower, just war, the separation of religious from political authority, the origins of romantic love, the separation of powers, republican democracy and many other concepts.

The committee has listened to its critics, and Commissioner Yecke has wisely corrected elements that would cause needless disputes. The committee has helpfully added suggested "examples" as ways of teaching its required "benchmarks" suggesting Dred Scott, for instance, as a way of teaching the Fugitive Slave Act (a "benchmark" issue). The examples and benchmarks will make the standards a living document, where our memories of the past and hopes for the future may be debated, studied and passed on to the next generation.

St. Paul
The writer is director of the humanities program at Bethel College.


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