At the beginning of November, the National Education Association sent a letter to members of Congress, telling them they would earn favorable grades for co-sponsoring bills the union supports. By the Nov. 16 deadline, several members obliged, according to the Congressional Record. The five NEA-backed bills that would make the most dramatic changes to NCLB received 47 new co-sponsors before the NEA's deadline. (For a complete list of bills that the NEA supports, see this list.) More Democrats than Republicans jumped on the union's bandwagon. Of the Republicans, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, was most notable. He added his name to ...


Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has unveiled his $18 billion education plan. Over at the Campaign K-12 blog, Alyson Klein explains where the candidate stands on NCLB and Michele McNeil covers his proposals on teacher pay. Sen. Obama's proposal set off a sound-bite debate over NCLB. He chastised his principle opponents for voting in favor of NCLB without fully funding it. The campaigns of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., shot back. Spokeswomen for both campaigns noted that Sen. Obama voted as a state senator to require Illinois to implement the law even though ...


Toward the end of her latest entry on the Building Bridges blog, Diane Ravitch reports on her inside knowledge about how much Democrats want to change NCLB. The answer is: Not much. "The law will no doubt get a new name, but the basic structure will not be abandoned," Ravitch writes after her meeting with a "very smart" Democratic congressman, whom she doesn't name. She concludes: "One wonders, if the people who have to do the implementation say that it is not working, why would Congress push ahead? But apparently they are. It is time to realize that this law, ...


The Washington Post is the latest to point out that states are hiding "persistently dangerous schools" by not reporting them as required under NCLB. My colleague, Erik Robelen, first noted this four years ago. By focusing on the small number of schools being identified as "persistently dangerous," the Post story overlooked substantive recommendations from the Department of Education's inspector general in this report. To fix the problem, the IG recommends the following: "1) All violent incidents, according to state code, are factored into the [persistently dangerous schools] determination, without the use of disciplinary action qualifiers; "2) Benchmarks for determining [persistently ...


When the NAEP scores released this week showed that achievement inched up in big cities, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said in a statement that they showed that "NCLB is working." She said the same thing—word for word—when state-by-state results came out in September. Then and now, critics have questioned her use of the data. The point-counterpoint has been going on for two years. Spellings’ strategy is probably a good one, even if it is a bit repetitive. But will it hold in the long run? Let’s say two years from now NAEP scores go down or ...


In the 20th Century, Congress was more likely to name a law after a couple of its members than a campaign slogan. In 1988, Congress passed and President Reagan signed the Augustus F. Hawkins-Robert T. Stafford Elementary and Secondary Schools Improvement Act. Hawkins, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee at the time, died this week at the age of 100. The obituaries I've read (see here and here) highlight Hawkins' work on labor and civil rights. But he played a significant role in requiring schools to prove that their students are improving academically. The 1988 law that ...


The legislative work to reauthorize NCLB has stalled in recent weeks. But the issues that the law has raised won't be going away, judging from the current issue of Education Week. In this week's paper, you'll find stories on improving low-performing schools and addressing the educational needs of children in poverty, as well as an essay on testing and accountability. On the front page, Catherine Gerwertz writes up a new report calling for the creation of "turnaround specialists" to lead local efforts to improve districts' worst-performing schools ('Turnaround' Work Needs Rethinking, New Report Says). The report's authors acknowledge that such ...


Former White House aide Karl Rove suggested in August that the administration would use executive power to change NCLB if Congress failed to reauthorize the law. As prospects for an NCLB bill dimmed last week, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said that she wants to standardize graduation rates across states. "I think we need some truth in advertising," Spellings told the Associated Press. In the nearly three years since Spellings took her current job, she has moved aggressively to change NCLB policies. She has created a pilot program for states to use growth models, rewritten rules for assessing special education ...


Several studies have documented how states have set low expectations to make it easier for their schools and districts to make AYP. The latest one is here. But Education Sector's Kevin Carey digs a little deeper in this report, explaining the statistical sleights of hand states use to avoid declaring their schools and districts in need of improvement. Here's a quick list based on Carey's research: Delay the pain: Set long-term goals that postpone large portions of the achievement gains until the deadline for universal proficiency looms. Several states hold schools accountable for making a third of the progress toward ...


The number of ironies in the NCLB debate never ceases to amaze me. The latest comes in the fight over education spending. On one side, there's President Bush. He's been praising NCLB in speech after speech after speech. He proposed a $1.1 billion increase for law's Title I. You'd think that he'd be happy if Congress lavished more money on his favorite program. Think again. He's says the money he proposed is enough. The $1.5 billion increase Congress would give Title I is too much, the White House says in this statement threatening to veto an appropriations bill ...


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