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January 18, 2007

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        On Monday, January 8th, the MN Senate Education Committee passed a resolution critical of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which is being re-authorized in Congress this year. Resolution SF28 passed the MN Senate Committee unanimously, describing NCLB as a "federal intrusion into state and local control of education, which violates time-honored American principles of balanced federalism and respect for state and local prerogatives." The resolution also opposes expanding NCLB to high schools, an amendment added to the resolution by Sen. Michel (R-Edina).      

        While the resolution is a good first step toward opposing NCLB, Minnesota needs much stronger legislation than SF28. This resolution, authored by Sen. Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul) and co-authored by Sen. Vickerman (DFL-Tracy), is a "mend it, don't end it" approach, and, as such, will ultimately leave the federal government and its mandates for equal outcomes (AYP) in control of Minnesota education.

        The Education Minnesota teachers' union and the Minnesota School Board Association urged the legislature to demand more federal funding and the right to meet federal mandates in Minnesota's own way. That approach, reminiscent of a similar resistance to repealing the Profile of Learning, is no solution to the onerous and destructive effects of NCLB.

       Dr. Karen Effrem of EdWatch noted the bipartisan difficulties with NCLB both from legislators and groups at all points on the political spectrum. She affirmed Senator Wiger's willingness to deal with NCLB, but also supported Senators Stumpf's [DFL-Plummer], Michel's [R-Edina] , and Olson's [R-Minnetrista] concerns about the approach of the bill. She reminded the Committee that in 2004, the Senate Education Committee passed a strong bipartisan bill, authored by then-Sens Bachmann (R-Stillwater) and Ranum (DFL-Minneapolis) to withdraw Minnesota from NCLB unless it was specifically affirmed by the legislature. (Michele Bachmann is now a member of Congress from Minnesota's 6th Congressional District.) That language passed the full Senate as part of the Senate omnibus education bill.  Dr. Effrem unequivically stated EdWatch's support for that type of legislation.

        Finally, Dr. Effrem pointed out that NCLB is not eliminating the achievement gaps, and its AYP testing requirements force schools to focus on limited, low-level, equal outcomes for all, not higher achievement levels.
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Chart from the National Center for Educational Statistics


105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
952-361-4931 www.edwatch.org - edwatch@lakes.com

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