Local Support Lacking for NCLB
Ohanian Comment: Enter the name "Nina Rees" on the search page on this site. On the hand, you don't need to. Here's the pertinent info from her bio on the U. S. government website:
Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Education, Rees was a deputy assistant for domestic policy in the office of Vice President Cheney, where she also worked on the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Prior to joining the White House in January 2001, Rees served as an education adviser to the Bush presidential campaign and helped draft the No Child Left Behind education blueprint for the Bush-Cheney transition team. She also served as a senior aide on the education platform committee at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
From 1997 to 2001, she served as the chief education analyst for The Heritage Foundation.
Don't miss a conservative calling this Soviet-style management. This is an issue where true conservatives and true progressives can agree, leaving the Republican Democratic hacks far behind.
Federal enforcers of the No Child Left Behind Act need to win local support to close the school achievement gap between white and minority children, Nina Rees, assistant deputy education secretary, told a Washington forum yesterday.
"We're not convinced the message is seeping in fast enough at the local level to make the difference," Mrs. Rees told a Cato Institute audience that included a Utah state legislator who led a successful rebellion against federal control of schools in her state.
Faced with tough criticism of unconstitutional consolidation of power in Washington over schools, Mrs. Rees said enforcement of the law has become the Department of Education's greatest challenge since NCLB's inception three years ago.
"We're going to take a hard line against states that have blatantly violated the law," she said, citing sanctions against Georgia and Minnesota for dragging their feet on student testing and against Texas for failing to determine adequate yearly progress of schools on time.
State Rep. Margaret Dayton, the Republican lawmaker who forged near-unanimous bipartisan support in Utah's state legislature for her bill to put state academic requirements ahead of the federal dictates on states' rights grounds, said federal requirements are too stringent. She said the call for 100 percent student grade-level proficiency in reading and math by 2014 is at odds with federal statutes for education of handicapped children.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require grade-level proficiency for children with learning disabilities, but instead calls for individual education plans so that handicapped students can "achieve at their ultimate best level" according to their own abilities, she said.
"I think it is really an immoral thing to test these children above their ability," Mrs. Dayton told the forum.
Lawrence A. Uzzell, a department policy official during the Reagan administration, leveled a stinging critique comparing the federal act to Soviet-style top-down micromanagement.
"The administration recognizes that the educational policies of the last four decades, a period of almost uninterrupted centralization, have failed, but its remedy is yet more centralization," Mr. Uzzell said in a Cato paper prepared for the forum.
Both states and the federal government have failed to issue honest and reliable reports about student proficiency, teacher quality and academic progress of schools, he said.
Mr. Uzzell said the law "creates huge incentives for states to make tests easier."
"Students are being measured by a rubber yardstick," he said.
However, Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and senior scholar of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said the law is "empowering people with more information than they've ever had before" about public school accomplishments.
"The sunshine elements will be its greatest success," he said.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES