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NCLB Outrages

Bush Is Failing Our School Systems

The No Child Left Behind Act is yet another example of the idiocy that is so prevalent in the federal government since George Bush became president. Riddled with idealistic, yet unrealistic, even absurd requirements, I have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that the act even passed Congress.

Enacted in 2001, NCLB mandates every state carry out annual testing to assess the performance of each and every student in all grades. This includes special education students, who are now expected to perform at the same level as students in the mainstream. Call me crazy, but if they could perform at the same level as mainstream students, they wouldn't be in special education in the first place.

David Holland, a math teacher and basketball coach at Vigor High School in Mobile, Alabama says, "NCLB is well intended, but it's not necessarily thought out."

He adds, "The idea that a child with a 60 IQ can achieve at the same level as a child with a 120 IQ is preposterous."

Special education students are expected to take the same standardized tests within the same time frame as the mainstream students. If this isn't ridiculous enough, forcing them to take these tests creates low self-esteem when they do not perform well and undue stress to a population of students who are already struggling. Thus, leaving a lot of children behind.

If 40 percent of students in every subgroup, including special education, do not meet the standards of performance required by NCLB, their school is deemed "low performing" and subject to cuts in federal funding and a state takeover.

Yet, there is no national form of assessment. It is up to each state to determine what is low performing, which, to say the least, makes for serious inconsistencies. Though it's admirable to want every student in the United States to go to college and achieve at the top level, it simply isn't possible. This is just another example of idealism run amok.

In addition to this complete lack of common sense, NCLB also places an unnecessary and unconstitutional financial burden on the states.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says, "Requiring Connecticut to spend $8 million of its own money to conduct additional testing, when it has a successful 20-year history of alternate-grade testing, violates the Unfunded Mandates Provision of NCLB, 20 USC Sec. 7907(a), as well as the Spending Clause under the U.S. Constitution."

Wait...what? Because Congress has enacted a law that mandates adherence to that law be federally funded, and then did not provide the necessary funding for it, they are in violation of their own law. Can we say idiot a little bit louder now? Come on, I know you can do it.

In addition to violating the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution, it also violates the 10th Amendment, which clearly states power not delegated by the U.S. Constitution, nor prohibited by it, is reserved for the states.

Because there is nothing in the Constitution granting the power of the federal government over education, Congress has no right to mandate education. It is the right of the states. This violation of the Constitution and objection to the annual testing requirements has prompted Connecticut to file suit against the U.S. Department of Education.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings called the lawsuit "un-American" and accused Connecticut education officials of "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

Ah, yes. When met with opposition, do what this administration always does, play the patriot card, and if you can, play the race card as well. Double whammy! Way to go, Spellings!

Other states have announced their intention to also file lawsuits objecting to the NCLB.

California's objection to NCLB is its mandate that students in English Learners be required to take the tests in English.

These students do not speak English as a first language, but are learning English. They are required to take the tests in English instead of their native language and are struggling with the language barrier, thus not performing well. Their schools are being labeled "low performing" as a result.

According to Christine Mahr of The Desert Sun, the California Association for Bilingual Education and Californians Together have joined the lawsuit.

"The groups say the testing of English learners in English violates No Child Left Behind, which says English learners should be tested in a 'valid and reliable' manner and in the language and form most likely to yield accurate data on what students know and can do in academics," Mahr said.

Though this legislation seems on the surface to be a positive step toward progressive education, it is in reality an abuse of power by the federal government and an inept attempt to appear to be "doing something." The absurdity continues

— Melissa Webster
USA Vanguard from the University of South Alabama


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