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Developments on No Child Left Behind

February 26, 2005

1. Bush: Defund the Center for Civic Education
2. Bush: Defund the Mental Health Integration in the Schools
3. George Will and Republicans on NCLB
4. Report from the National Conference on State Legislators
5. Utah set to reject No Child Left Behind

1. Bush: Defund the Center for Civic Education

The President's 2005 budget proposals include eliminating funding for numerous controversial education programs within No Child Left Behind. Included is the Center for Civic Education's We the People program. WTP program includes the We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution textbook (the federal curriculum), promotion of the National Standards on Civics and Government, We the People teacher training, and making those programs and products "available" to all schools.

The battle to scuttle the "New Civics" Federal Academies last year is paying off. Awareness of the dangers of the WTP program is rising on Capitol Hill. Charles Quigley, the Executive Director of the Center for Civic Education, described the New Civics Federal Academies bill as "a prominent and productive element of this movement." (Members of Congress, meanwhile, were being misinformed by the chief authors that the New Civics legislation was unrelated to the CCE, the federal curriculum, or WTP.) This story is developing and more information will be coming..

2. Bush: Defund the Mental Health Integration in the Schools

Other good news is the President's proposed elimination of funding in NCLB of Mental Health Integration in the Schools, Foundations for Learning (another program with mental health screening concerns), Regional Education Labs, and many School-to-Work programs, such as Smaller Learning Communities. The Regional Education Labs have been a hotbed of radical change in education for forty years. Mental Health Screening is a major policy battle in this Congress. This story is developing and more information will be coming.

3. George Will and the Republican Study Committee on NCLB

It has been three years since FedEd: The New Federal Curriculum and How Itís Enforced was published. This book revealed  for the first time the role of federal legislation in establishing a radical, integrated curriculum in every public school through the Center for Civic Education and its We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution textbook. Since that time over 17,000 copies of FedEd have been sold, many times by the case. Conferences, interviews, videotapes, and websites have spread the information. The message is getting out, in spite of official denials by NCLB defenders that there is no federal curriculum.

In his February 17th column, George Will described the increasing opposition to the federal education law among Republicans. Will states:
"The Republican Study Committee, whose chairman is Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, is an organization of 100 particularly adamant conservatives among House Republicans. Pence, for example, was one of just 12 Republicans who voted against the prescription drug entitlement and against No Child Left Behind because of its imposition of federal standards on elementary education, quintessentially a state and local responsibility.

"When, a couple of weeks ago, the RSC met in Baltimore to enumerate its priorities, their list included "maintaining local control of secondary education." That may seem an anodyne sentiment; actually it is a shot across the Bush administration's bow. It is code for: Enough centralization -- we oppose the president's plan for extending federal standards to high schools. Thirty-four House Republicans voted against No Child Left Behind in 2001. More might oppose the administration's planned extension of its sweep." [Emphasis added.]

In 2001, only thirty-four House Republicans voted against No Child Left Behind, in spite of the support of their President. These members recognized NCLB as an unconstitutional intrusion of the federal government into education. In 2005, however, many more conservative House members oppose the expansion of standards and assessments to high schools. This understanding of the role of state and national standards and assessments in the federal take-over of education has been a long time coming. But it is taking hold. (See America's Schools: The Battleground for Freedom which defines NCLB in detail.)

4. Report from the National Conference on State Legislators

The National Conference on State Legislatures issued a 10 month study of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Washington Post called the 77 page report "an escalation in the war of words surrounding the law." The Post went on to say:"The report complained that the federal government provides less than 8 percent of the nation's education funds and seeks to impose an unworkable accountability system in return."

Republican state Sen. Steve Saland of New York, who co-chaired the task force, stated, "We believe the federal government's role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education." According to Education Week, the report raises constitutional issues, stating that:

"the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly define a role for the federal government in K-12 education." A 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision requires the federal government to be "unambiguous" and forbids it to be "coercive" when implementing laws in areas where the Constitution doesn't explicitly provide for a federal role, the report says."The protracted period of negotiations between states and the U.S. Department of Education and ongoing amendments to state plans in response to changing federal guidelines, inconsistent approvals to amendment requests, resulting lack of notice or availability of precedent for states to rely on is strong evidence that the law is not" unambiguous, the report argues.

The NCSL, however, has no plans to sue the federal government, according to Minnesota's Sen.Steve Kelley, a co-charman of the task force. Instead, the report proposes beefing up the federal spending and making the law more user-friendly. While describing NCLB as an "assertion of federal authority into an area historically reserved to the states," there is not the slightest hint of an awareness of or opposition to the federal curriculum being mandated on all schools in the nation through federally funded national standards and state assessments. The NCLS supports the Adequate Yearly Progress of federal testing.

In Minnesota, for example, Sen. Kelley and other Democrat Senators have introduced SF 1244 which continues to hold the state to the same flawed standards, even if Minnesota walks away from NCLB. The state standards are low expectations ("the floor," as Sen. Kelley says),  they are highly politicized, and Kelley had a strong hand in crafting them. Challenging the NCLB laws in court would undermine all sorts of federal intrusions into education that Kelley and others dearly love, such as the national standards themselves.

Utah set to reject No Child Left Behind
By George Archibald

Utah's state Legislature is poised to repudiate the No Child Left Behind Act and spurn $116 million in federal aid tied to it because state policy-makers are fed up with federal control of education and dictates.

"This is not a partisan issue; this is a states' rights issue," said Rep. Margaret Dayton, a 55-year-old Republican and mother of 12 who has led the rebellion to make Utah the first state to opt out of No Child Left Behind.

"We share the same passion President Bush has for quality education, but there is not one opponent [to opting out] in the entire Legislature, which is 2-to-1 Republican," Mrs. Dayton said.
{Full story.]