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NCLB Outrages

No Child Left Behind pumps up school districts

Ohanian Comment These people need to read William Mathis' research on what NCLB costs a district. His numbers show that states pay out more than they receive.

By Bob Stuart

A potential Virginia withdrawal from the federal No Child Left Behind law would leave deep financial scars for local school districts such as Waynesboro’s.

Virginia legislators, including area Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, have proposed such a pullout if the federal Department of Education does not address waivers from the law requested by the state.

Any pullout would cost states their federal education funding.

Statewide, Virginia public schools receive about $334 million in annual funding from No Child Left Behind.

Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Lowell Lemons said his district receives $1 million a year in No Child Left Behind money.

In addition, Lemons said, the money “is not just soft money. It’s money that I can hook people into. Specific positions are paid with the money.”

Much of the money is tied to the federal Title I program, and pays for pre-kindergarten classes and four reading teachers at the city’s two Title I schools, William Perry and Wenonah elementary schools. Title I schools serve at-risk children.

In addition to Title I money, William Perry also has received a five-year, $1 million reading grant through No Child Left Behind. The grant provides instructional materials and an instructional coach for reading.

A withdrawal also would cut special education funding for aides and other staff support for that program, and a parent resource van. The van goes to city neighborhoods and offers books to parents for home-based instruction.

“We would be deeply impacted by the loss of the federal money,’’ Lemons said.

He describes Wenonah and William Perry “as two terrific schools,’’ but said the performance at both is enhanced by the federal money.

If Virginia leaves No Child Left Behind, Lemons said he hopes state funding would fill in the gaps.

It is unrealistic, however, to expect the city of Waynesboro to offer the money, he said.

“For us to turn to our government and ask for $1 million, they couldn’t do that if we wanted them to,’’ Lemons said.

Federal legislation proposed by both 6th District Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., could be the compromise Virginia school districts need on No Child Left Behind.

The two filed the companion bills last spring.

Under the legislation, Virginia could get a waiver from the “adequate yearly progress” provision of No Child Left Behind, while maintaining accountability and standards-based testing.

Allen, interviewed at a political event in Staunton late Monday, called Virginia’s Standards of Learning program “a model for the rest of the country.”

And the senator said his concern about No Child Left Behind is that it affects the progress Virginia has made over the past decade on the SOLs.

“We don’t need the federal government dumbing down our standards,’’ he said.

— Bob Stuart
News Virginian


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