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Asian-Americans and NCLB

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My colleague David Hoff has a great article on our Web site now about a group that contends Asian-American children are being shortchanged under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund noted that the NCLB provisions for tracking ethnic subgroups are not adequate for Asians, and that Asian children who are English-language learners may have different needs and struggle in different areas than Hispanic students. Too often, the group contends, the unique struggles of Asian children are ignored because they're often seen as "model minorities."

This complaint reminds me of what I've heard from some disability advocates. Monitoring students with disabilities is the only way they feel they can get schools to care about their kids. There's real concern, though, that all the "flexibility" in the law may mean that children with disabilities will be left out in the cold.

It'll be fascinating to see what will happen to NCLB under a new administration, especially for students with disabilities. Right now, the candidates are full of promises, but offer few details. I've already told my friend Michele McNeil that I will have to deploy audience members strategically during any potential town hall meetings to grill the candidates about special education.

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I am one who has concerns about the growing flexibility regarding students with disabilities. It has been very important to me as a parent to have access to meaningful data (especially when I was being steered to "special schools" with the ability to provide for my child's needs--and could see that they were failing miserably to achieve any measureable learning). I have a lot of concern when I hear hand-wringing teachers stand up as "advocates" for their poor students with disabilities who are being tested at levels the teachers already know that they cannot achieve. I don't hear a lot from these same advocates regarding real solutions (beyond full funding of IDEA--not a bad idea, but still begs the question of how the funds are to be used) for the success of students with disabilities. I can only hope that the disability lobby can stand up to the teacher's lobby. It's the closest thing we have to a meaningful "children's lobby."

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