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Groups Push Back Against Formidable Foe on NCLB Rules

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In announcing new NCLB rules yesterday, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said they “will help us build on the progress of No Child Left Behind and set the table until Congress can act on this legislation.”

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., more or less agreed with her.

The rules are a “significant step forward in helping schools, parents, and teachers bring new solutions to the challenges of helping every child get ahead in school,” the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said in a statement. “The new regulations will allow schools to innovate while Congress works on new legislation to improve and strengthen the No Child Left Behind law.”

(You can find both quotes in the story I wrote for edweek.org.)

But a coalition of education groups disagrees. They say the package of new regulations—which require a uniform high school graduation rate, force districts to give tutoring companies space to serve students, among many other things—are a poor substitute for congressional reauthorization. (UPDATE: You can read the letter here.)

"The regulatory rule change proposals continue a pattern of piecemeal regulation and new requirements in NCLB, placing states and localities in a continuous cycle of frustrating efforts to interpret, change policies, and implement directions from the U.S. Department of Education," the groups wrote in a letter to Congress last month. The groups are the National Conference of State Legislatures, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, the National Association of State Boards of Education, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

They're seeking a moratorium on the enforcement of the rules. Congress will return after the election to work on an economic stimulus bill. Such a moratorium could slip through Congress during the lame-duck session.

But how easy will that be when Sen. Kennedy's statement implies he would oppose it?

2 Comments

Boo hoo. Teachers no longer have a monopoly inside the school house gates.

I am ALL FOR forcing schools to have curriculum programs that offer ALL of their students relevant, standards based educations that truly meet them "where they are". As a former Special Education Teacher in a public High School, in South Carolina, I can tell you that our drop out rate was nearly 40%. It broke my heart, but we had nothing to offer the vast majority of students at our school, who did not learn on grade level (Regular education or Special Education). We did have a Technical Trade School, but even there the standards kept getting pushed higher, and higher until many students could no longer keep up...even with accommodations. If there were behavior issues, forget it! We did have a local Vocational Rehabilitation Office that was eager to work out a feasible way to work with our students; however, our Special Services Department Director would not let us even suggest it. The only way that students could get involved was to drop out, and go there independently. Fortunately, several did choose to do that, and to this day, they are my most successful students. It saddens me so much that public schools can be given so much to help our kids, yet through poor planning, or selfish motives, do NOT PUT THE NEEDS OF THE CHILDREN FIRST. I applaud Mrs. Spellings for the stand she has taken, and I'm glad she chose Columbia, SC, to speak. I hope my county heard her LOUD AND CLEAR.

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