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Back to June Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 269 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS JUNE 2008

Secretary of Education Attempts Changes to No Child Left Behind
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As Congress continued to debate a new version of the 2001 law, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced several changes of her own to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). "This is the boldest sidestep around the Congress that I've ever seen," said Bruce Hunter of the American Association of School Administrators. "She's trying to rewrite the law without the benefit of congressional action. I'd be surprised if lawmakers let this go."

Spellings's proposals include standardizing how states report graduation rates and tightening some of the law's requirements on failing schools. NCLB requires failing schools to notify parents that their children's school is failing and that they may choose to transfer to a better one. Many parents, however, say they received that notice weeks or even months into the school year, or didn't receive it at all. Spellings wants to require schools to notify parents by two weeks before the school year begins. She also proposes a number of new regulations on the law's mandate for after-school tutoring for students who remain in failing schools.

While it remains to be seen whether they will submit to Spellings's changes if Congress does not confirm them, states will no doubt welcome the changes she proposes that would make consequences for failing schools more flexible. Many states have complained that the law punishes all failing schools equally, whether their failure is a near miss or an all-out disaster. Spellings has now invited states to propose a more flexible and targeted set of consequences, and says she will allow ten states to implement such proposals.

Although nearly everyone agrees that NCLB's long-term goal - to make every child proficient in grade-level math and reading by 2014 — is impossibly unrealistic, Spellings affirmed that the goal remains the same. (Associated Press, 3-18-08; New York Times, 4-23-08)


 
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