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NCLB Outrages

Utah rebuked over NCLB

GOP Rep. Dayton found it interesting Paige would assume Utah hadn't read the 700-plus NCLB law in its entirety.

By Shinika A. Sykes

Utah's rebellion against the No Child Left Behind Act is based on a misunderstanding of the law, says the nation's ex-education boss, Rodney Paige.

Utah has every right to decide how best to educate its children, according to the former secretary of education. "I am disappointed Utah would forgo the resources of the federal government to help with their education, especially with a growing minority population."

Paige, who served in the nation's top education post during the first term of the Bush administration, was in Salt Lake City Saturday to speak at the Internet-based Western Governors University's commencement.

"I have faith that once [Utah officials] review the facts and what the law will achieve, they, like the majority of states, will come to understand and support NCLB," Page said.

During the 2005 Legislature, Utah lawmakers passed a measure that directs state education officials to ignore provisions of NCLB that conflict with Utah policy - or that require state money.

Orem GOP Rep. Margaret Dayton sponsored the measure, allowing Utah to replace the federal accountability standards with Utah standards. The federal standards are aimed at closing the achievement gaps between ethnic minority and Anglo students.

In an interview before joining WGU's academic processional into the Rose Wagner Center in Salt Lake City, Paige rejected concerns of flaws in President Bush's landmark education reform act.

The president has the right idea for improving education for all the nation's children, Paige insisted. "NCLB is what's best for children."

Dayton found it interesting Paige would assume Utah hadn't read the 700-plus NCLB law in its entirety.

Utah is not revolting against the federal law, Dayton said Saturday from her Utah County home. "We are asserting our rights under the Constitution and affirmed under the law that created Utah as a state. It's a states' rights issue," she said.

According to Dayton, at least 33 states have some opposition to NCLB.

Paige resigned from the top education job at the start of the president's second term. He now is a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Center, a public-policy think tank based in Washington, D.C.

In his speech to WGU graduates and their families, Paige ticked off a list of notable individuals - Brigham Young, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela - who stood up for what's right, and by doing so, changed the world.

"One person can make a difference," Paige said.

During the ceremony, WGU officials awarded 23 bachelor's, 17 master's, three post-baccalaureate teacher preparation certificates and two associate degrees.

WGU President Robert Mendenhall presented Paige with an honorary doctor of humane letters.

WGU graduate William Trozzo said his academic standing is now on par with a job in computer-technology management. The 36 year-old married father of three came to Salt Lake City from Pittsburgh to pick up his bachelor's degree in information technology.

Trozzo said he had taken classes at the University of Pittsburgh but found it difficulty to work full time, take care of his family and attend a traditional university.

"WGU offered the flexibility I needed," he said. "After putting the kids to bed, I could attend WGU over the Internet."

Western Governors University - What is it?

* An accredited competency-based, Internet university

* Administration office: in Salt Lake City

* Degree program: bachelor's and master's (associate degrees are being phased out)

* Enrollment: All 50 states, 3 territories, 10 countries

* Age of students: 19 to 68

* No. of Summer 2005 nationwide graduates: 190; 45 attended Saturday's ceremony

* Yearly tuition: $5,180 ($2,590/6 months)

— Shinika A. Sykes
Salt Lake Tribune


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