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NCLB Outrages

State School Leaders Hope to Reshape the No Child Left Behind Act

Ohanian Comment: Although we can cheer on any resistance to NCLB strictures, we should keep clear on the basics: The Virginia standards of learning suck.

The Virginia Association of School Superintendents unveiled its 2005 legislative goals this week saying it hopes to remedy schools’ infrastructural ills and personnel shortfalls, and emphasized the group's desire to reshape the state’s relationship with the federal No Child Left Behind act.

"We basically have a foundation, but we still need to build the house," VASS Secretary and Superintendent of Henrico County Frederick Morton III said in reference to Virginia school facilities.

On one hand, 84 percent of Virginia schools are fully accredited based on their Standards of Learning performance, a 10 percent increase from last year. But the temperature in Montgomery County classrooms lacking proper air conditioning units can climb past 100 degrees with a sweltering 95 percent humidity, and some Henrico schools are housed in buildings that haven’t been remodeled for 50 years.

"Concrete actions must take place in the next two biennia rather than conduct more study," Morton said.

On the Standards of Quality front, Virginia already has very high standards for achievement and elaborate accountability mechanisms to ensure those goals are met. VASS representatives called NCLB requirements "cumbersome," "restrictive" and "penalizing Virginia for having higher standards."

President Edgar Hatrick III says he hopes either the state board of education or the Virginia General Assembly will "exercise influence over the Department of Education to use powers already in the law to straighten things out" and grant the state waivers from participating in the federal program.

Specifically, VASS hopes Washington will grant waivers allowing:

# students not making adequate progress to receive supplemental services in their own schools before forcing them to transfer.

# retaken tests scores to count toward the schools’ total score as they currently do not.

# the Individual Education Plan provided for in previously existing federal legislation determine disabled children’s curricula.

# grant students for whom English is not their first language extended test-taking time, among other requests.

VASS lobbyist William Pruett said "a good number of the waivers were asked for by other states and granted." He added that he is fairly confident about the waivers passing.

Capital News Service is staffed by students from the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. They provide state government news coverage for news outlets throughout Virginia including Richmond.com.

— Amy Biegelsen
Capital News Service


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