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Suing the NCLB: Are Lawsuits the Answer?

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The backlash against the No Child Left Behind Act was raised to a new level last week when Connecticut's attorney general announced that his state plans to sue the U.S. Department of Education over the testing mandates in the sweeping federal law. The suit--one of the boldest in a growing number of challenges to the Bush administration's hallmark of challenges to the Bush administration's hallmark legislation--reportedly would argue that the law violates federal statute by forcing states to use their own money to carry out its testing requirements. Critics, however, said that Connecticut's estimates were flawed and that the No Child law could help the state address the low achievement of its poor and minority students.

Does the No Child Left Behind Act place undue financial burdens on states? Does its testing requirements spur school systems to better assist http://209.190.217.91/workflow/profile/story/65520?checkout=1#
http://209.190.217.91/workflow/profile/story/65520?checkout=1#low-performing students? Do you expect more legal challenges to the law?

16 Comments

Thank goodness at least one state is finally standing up to challenge NCLB. NCLB is underfunded, and the burdens of this underfunded mandate are falling on the states: federal law is demanding the states perform, and is slowly but surely backing out of financial responsibility. May all the states join in!
And teaching, not testing, makes education solid. Perhaps another brave state will consider just how much the NCLB money is worth, at all, and will opt out of the money.

Until the "powers that be" understand the concept of "garbage in, garbage out", no mandates at any level will cure the problems faced in our schools today. 1.Many students already come to school with the attitude that school is not the least bit important and are mentally shut-down while they are at schools. Increased testing only further serves to increase that problem. 2.So much attention is paid to standardized testing that the opportunity to learn valuable information to function in life is denied. 3.If the federal gov't. is going to interfere and mandate more and more to the state level, the least it could do is ensure sufficient funding to the states. The states do not have the ability to do it themselves.

I'd like to make a simple observation. The power that thge Federal Government has over school systems to enact NCLB, apparently, is the witholding of "Federal money". Let me ask if I have this straight. We pay taxes to the Federal government, for them to use to enact the will of the people. Then, the Federal government mandates laws, against the will of the people, and threatens to withold our own money (Federal funds) if we don't comply?
Our forefathers are turning over in their graves. Let's get some backbone teachers, administrators and others and speak out publicly instead of just amongst ourselves for fear of our own government.

The word "education" is NOT in the U.S. Consitution. The US Dept of Education nor Congress is aware of this. On its face it is bad law and most likely in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It is nothing about equal access for students such as in the various laws and regulations like IDEA, it is about imposing a seriously flawed concept upon schools throughout the U.S. A mandate the Bush administration clearly has no intention to fund or even try to understand what the impact the NCLB really is. In case your have never read it NCLB is nearly 700 pages long, so it is doubtful that any member of Congress read it or understood it when it was passed. That is just the law, not the supporting regulation!

Former Education Sec. Rod Paige and current Education Sec. Spellings are pretty much responsible for crafting it. It is based on the so-called "miricle in Houston" that turns out was a miricle only when you played with the stats and excluded various groups. There is no miricle, except no one in the Bush administration looked at the validity of the "miricle."

The NCLB was based on lies! Educators are now forced to teach to the test rather than look at improving education based on student needs. Too many parents want to blame the education system when it is they that failed. When have they participated in their child's education?

Until education is fully funded at all levels of education, things will never improve. Here in East Tennessee they talk more about education than any place I have ever lived. They just talk. The local taxpayers do not want to fund education, they just want to complain.

Teachers are professionals and deserve to be paid and treated as such. Many have advanced graduate degrees, such as myself, and leave because they cannot live on the pay that is offered. Education K-higher education is not a political toy, it is training the future of the United States. That is the point that is forgotten.

Kathy Barker: "NCLB is underfunded...And teaching, not testing, makes education solid."

P. Chandler: "If the federal gov't. is going to interfere and mandate more and more to the state level, the least it could do is ensure sufficient funding to the states. The states do not have the ability to do it themselves."

Larry Jenkins: "Our forefathers are turning over in their graves. Let's get some backbone teachers, administrators and others and speak out publicly instead of just amongst ourselves for fear of our own government."

I agree with all that has been said. Unfortunately, from discussion forums, listening to Horowitz (when he doesn't have a pie in his face), and looking at what has been posted elsewhere on the web, we see a longer-term, more sinister agenda. NCLB mandates standards and assessments to help students meet those standards. Well and good. It insists that all students meet the standards at the same age, regardless of capability; obviously not realistic. It dictates that if students in even one subgroup--including students with learning disabilities--does not meet the standards, then the school is defined as failing (thus, even good schools can "fail.") It dictates that students from "failing" schools may take the school's money elsewhere (ie, private schools). IF NCLB provided adequate funding for improvement, this might have a chance. But, since NCLB is grossly underfunded, it becomes merely a means to define schools as "failing," and mandating their privatization. Over the long term, this is a perfect recipe for creating a de facto voucher system, and privatizing the schools.

Why would they do this? Is it simply an inintended consequence of well-meaning, but ill-informed politicians? Or is it an intended consequence of ill-meaning, but well-informed politicians?

Horowitz provides some data: he blames all of society's ills on "professors, teachers' unions, and Democrats." Note that professors and teachers' unions are primarily Democrats. If we can break up these groups, we eliminate one more political power that stands for Independent Thinking. Independent thinking is bad. It leads to believing that evolution is valid, which in turn leads to the destruction of morality--or so they say. Some analysts identify NCLB as Step One in breaking up the teachers' unions; the "academic freedom" bills being introduced in state legislatures (saying that students can sue their professors if they teach something with which the students disagree) is the current approach for those nasty professors.

Does this make our forefathers turn over in their graves? Not according to the proponents of this agenda. Our forefathers were, after all, devoutly religious, and did not teach evolution. Proponents of this agenda say that they are taking us back to what our forefathers really wanted!

This is a very paranoid, conspiracy-theory viewpoint. It is directly opposite to the public rhetoric. But, there is enough information in the right-wing literature and among the creation/evolution debates to justify considering this viewpoint to be realistic. It is otherwise hard to see how the president, and our state's new governor (good buddy of the president), can both claim that our future lies in high-tech, science-based R&D, but at the same time cut shool funding (in our case, taking away funding that had already been appropriated!), severely cut funding for NSF's education directorate, and require multiple-guess word-memorization science tests that encourage the least-scientific methods of teaching science.

If we want to save the public school systems, and focus on learning rather than testing, we need to follow Connecticut's lead and opt out of NCLB. We need to become publically vocal, and build grass-roots support for good schools, effective standards and assessment, and teaching methods that research--not the voucher buffs--has shown to give the best student learning. In the past, we've been so busy teaching that we haven't done this. We need to change.

In Connecticut NCLB is doing what it is intended to do. Education in Conn. is one of the best in the nation. But probably, just as Florida, favoring students with 2.0 or better GPA’s. We, in Florida, segregate students with less than 2.0. This allows the gap to widen. Our district with 92 schools can only get 14 to making AYP. I hope the lawsuit falls on deaf ears.
Bob

The NCLB Act is and always will be a mistake, not because it has poor intentions, but because it assumes that all children are educable to the same degree of mastery and if the school districts can't manage to teach them in that manner there must be something wrong with the district. All children can learn. All children will not master the same skills to the same degree. If a teacher relied only on testing to determine the mastery of skills in their classroom, they would be fired for incompetence, but that is exactly how the state and federal government are determining school success. This Act needs adjustment. Assessments need to be done throughout the year in a variety of ways so that we don't spend all our school time teaching to the test.

I hope that all members congress in the future are educated from public schools, come from loving homes, have supportive from parents, sleep in the same bed at night, have breakfast before coming to school, have the same caring, talented, creative teachers year after year, are educated in a school where there are updated materials, "good" technology-if any, have a class size of under 20 students per teacher, . . .it goes on. Wisconsin has done nothing wrong within its school to warrent these unfunded mandates. Are all schools treated equally??? NO, Are there some very poorly managed schools??? YES, Are all children coming from the same parent??? NO, Is everyone in Congress made to behave like a clone??? You answer that question.

I hope that all members of congress in the future are educated from public schools, come from loving homes, have supportive parents, sleep in the same bed at night, have breakfast before coming to school, have the same caring, talented, creative teachers year after year, are educated in a school where there are updated materials, "good" technology-if any, have a class size of under 20 students per teacher, . . .it goes on. Wisconsin has done nothing wrong within its schools to warrent these unfunded mandates. Are all schools treated equally??? NO, Are there some very poorly managed schools??? YES, Are all children coming from the same parent??? NO, Is everyone in Congress made to behave like a clone??? You answer that question.

Besides the financial burden, let's not forget the impact on the kids. All of this testing creates greater anxiety and depression in our children. Is that what we want to be creating: a society of anxious and depressed children? WOW, look at the social and financial burden that will follow from that result.

I agree with Tracy, testing is not one size fits all. Students learn at different pace and therefore should not be fitted into similar cookie cutter factories when it comes to testing. Good teachers vary activities and strategies in the classroom to meet individual student's learning needs. Efficient assessment tool should also be designed to assess students accordingly and should be an ongoing process. OR "Better still we might need to clone students for us all to make the AYP"

About six months ago, I decided to find out for myself whether or not the NCLB Act was really "the unfunded mandate" that the majority of educators seemed to think it was. The federal share of education funding has INCREASED from 5.7% in 1990-1991 to 8.2% - an INCREASE of 43.9%! Even though the 2005 Federal Budget was, in the final analysis, below the President's request, it nevertheless provided $56.6 billion for the Education Department - a 1.6% INCREASE from the previous year. It is hardly unfunded! Furthermore, the Constitution leaves the responsibility for K-12 education with the states. The federal government provides assistance to the states to supplement state support. Regarding the NCLB Act, the states are responsible for allocating the funds in a manner that promotes its objectives, which are to improve students' achievement and change the culture of education. The four principles are: stronger accountability for results; greater flexibility for states and schools in the use of federal funds; more choices for parents of children from disadvantaged backgrounds; and emphasis on teaching methods that have been demonstrated to work. In addition to improving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged (Title I, Part A), there are also monies available for preparing, training and recruiting high quality teachers and principals (Title II). Although there may very well be Districts that are underfunded because they do not qualify for Title I funds, it would be important to apply for supplemental funding. Perhaps Districts - and teachers themselves - should put forth more effort in obtaining grants and supplemental funding, emphasize differentiated learning and improved instructional strategies in the classroom, work on additional assistance from the state and be concerned about what is best for all students, rather than continually whining the mantra of "the unfunded mandates" of the NCLB Act. Although it is not perfect, why not proceed with a more positive attitude and try to improve the education of each and every child? Even our Constitution was not perfect in the beginning, requiring amendments throughout the years. Seek to improve the NCLB, rather than continue to make uneducated, critical and unfounded comments. Free speech is a wonderful thing, but with it comes the responsibility for being informed!

I wondered how long before someone would look at the accountability aspect of this law. Educators and administrators are responsible when a school does not meet the requirements of the act. The act states that it gives more choices to the parents. In many cases these parents are not home, are abusive, do not support their kids, are in abusive relationships, are drug addicts or alcoholics, etc. Tracy hit on it when she discussed the differences between students. I am from Connecticut and have been working in the school system for 5 years. Many of these kids rely on school lunches for their only meal! Parents do not make them go to school, do not enforce homework, simply do not support their kids' educational career. When a school 'fails' the government further cuts financial support. Instead of using federal funding to set up a system of reward and punishment with the schools, why not use the money to 'fix' issues within the system by working WITH educators and administrators to diagnose what these specific issues involve?

HOORAY FOR CONNECTICUT! Kudos for sticking their neck out and challenging this law. As a teacher who regularly lives by non-traditional assessment methods, I agree with those that believe we can not fully evaluate students by test scores alone. Now, who's going to join Connecticut in the big battle?

I'm generally a liberal who likes taxes. But the DOE is threatening to take away money from states like Utah, when much of it is Utah's own money they took from them in the first place. They should at least give back the amount Utah's put in so that the state can spend it on education.

Every effort should be made to educate all children, money should be the least of the concerns. Every state, SEA, LEA, school, teacher, and parent should be held accountable for each of their students' education - period. Stop placing blame on the next person, take the responsibility that is yours and do your jobs. If you are a teacher and what you're doing doesn't seem to reach little Johnny, then try something different. If you are a teacher with a second-rate education yourself, go back to school or find another career. Don't choose teaching because you think it's an easy job. Any teacher worth his or her weight in salt knows that teaching is HARD work.

If you are a superintendent or principal, stop hiring second-rate teachers. They don't do it in the wealthier communities, don't do it in yours.

If you are a legislator, initiative a bill that requires a pay floor for educators that will pay them a livable wage and then maybe the hiring authorities can hire better qualified teachers.

If you are superintendent, be sure to check the backgrounds of your principals thoroughly!

If you are a parent, be your child's advocate. Don't allow your child to be mis-educated, under-educated, etc. Don't be intimidated by the faculty and staff at your child's school. Be reminded, however, that your tax dollars, rather you own or rent, go to pay their salaries and if your children weren't enrolled in that school (which is your school), they wouldn't have a job. But on the other side of that same token, you forfeit all of those rights if you are not involved in your child's education in the first place. Join the PTA, make your child do ALL of their homework, set expectations and hold them accountable, hold yourself accountable. Spend time working with your children if they are having a hard time, and even if they are not having a hard time. Make them read rather than watch t.v. sometimes.

If everyone would do their jobs we wouldn't need NCLB. It's about the children and the future of this once great nation- not about the less than mighty dollar.

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