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NCLB Outrages

Illinois Administrators Say the NCLB Fix Is In

Ohanian Comment: 3 cheers for educators willing to speak out against NCLB. And it doesn't hurt to have a politician or two present.

Illinois schools are under a "direct attack" and most eventually will end up on a watch list of low-performing schools because of the federal No Child Left Behind law, warned one Belleville superintendent on Monday.

Jim Rosborg, superintendent of Belleville elementary schools, had a chance to explain his complaints about the legislation at a gathering of Belleville officials, teachers and students hosted by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Durbin was on hand to hear the group's frustration with the No Child Left Behind law, which Congress passed in January of last year. The law stresses school accountability and aims for all students to be meeting or exceeding standards by 2013-2014. Under the law, if schools don't make progress on standardized tests, they must allow students to transfer (and pick up the cost) and may eventually have to close if improvements aren't made.

Rosborg predicted that because the law required every subgroup of students, such as low-income or minority, to meet standards, most Illinois schools will end up on the list of low-performing schools.

This year, 18 area schools scattered throughout Cahokia, Venice, Madison, Alton, Brooklyn and East St. Louis must allow their students to transfer to other schools.

Belleville high schools Superintendent Brent Clark said, "Students are not widgets. They come from a variety of different backgrounds, experiences - there is no way you can expect every student to be perfect."

Equally frustrating, said the officials, is the lack of federal money to fund the new requirements - funding fell about $8 billion short this year.

Durbin is pushing legislation that will free schools from the sanctions of the law if the federal government doesn't provide the money it has promised.

"I fully understand the need for accountability," Rosborg said. "But this has gotten out of hand."

— Alexa Aguilar
Illinois schools can't meet new standard, educators say



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