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NCLB Outrages

The Echo Chamber: NCLB Reauthorization Proposal From The Education Trust

The name is certainly right: Echo Chamber. No real dissenters permitted. Follow the money. See who, including Education Week, gets money from Broad and Gates.


Each month, The Echo Chamber examines comments and controversy surrounding hot-button issues in education research and policy, which are compiled by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. This month's edition brings together a variety of viewpoints on the Education Trust's recommendations for No Child Left Behind reauthorization [pdf file].

Last month, the Education Trust, a Washington-based advocacy group, released a report on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. The report included recommendations that Congress should provide incentives for states to ratchet up their education standards and should focus federal resources on disadvantaged students in underperforming schools when it renews the 5-year-old No Child Left Behind Act.

In addition to advocating for its passage, the Education Trust was instrumental in advising lawmakers on the version of NCLB that was signed into law in 2002. As a result of this and other work, the Education Trust was cited as one of the most influential organizations in education policy over the last decade, according to a survey of education policy experts conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center.

Many groups have released proposals for the reauthorization of NCLB, but as Education Trust President Kati Haycock told Education Week, âMost of [the recommendations submitted for the reauthorization] say they are about fixing problems, but are essentially about weakening the law, arguing that it asks too much from schools. Our response to that is thatâs exactly wrong. Instead of asking less from schools, Congress needs to ask for more, but this time itâs very important that Congress provide more and better supports, especially for struggling schools.â ("Education Trust Offers NCLB Renewal Plan," April 18, 2007.)However, not everyone agrees that the Ed Trust is on the right track with their recommendations.

Editorial, The Seattle Times

âAssistance comes in thoughtful recommendations from a respected independent research and advocacy group, Education Trust. The comprehensive policy suggestions backed by credible data ought to be seriously considered by House Education and Labor Committee members hashing out the 5-year-old law. Some of the recommendations carry a common-sense tone that might tempt lawmakers and educators to say, "Duh." But the beauty of the federal law is that it is already succeeding in pulling schools out of mediocrity. It doesn't need wholesale change, but rather common-sense tweaks and solid funding.â

-from ""No Child" law and state reform" (April 15, 2007)
Barnett Berry, president and CEO, Center for Teaching Quality

"Recently I pointed to Education Trust and several of their problematic "highly qualified" teacher policy proposals â most notably their overemphasis on value-added assessments in identifying highly accomplished teachers. However, they also recommend 'better tools for teachers and administrators' â which are most needed in the No Child Left Behind reauthorization. For example, they call for a 'new $750 million curriculum fund for states to develop high-quality, high-level curriculum materials linked to their standards and assessments, and to provide teachers with professional development in using the new materials.'" ... ". I must tip my hat to the Education Trust. Now it is time for us also to invest more in teacher education so all teachers â even before they enter teaching â know how to take advantage of the new curriculum materials, use the innovative assessments, and better serve special needs and second language learners. These proposals also need to be in the reauthorization of NCLB"

-from "Sound and Trusted Education Trust Solutions" (April 29, 2007)
Mike Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

"Once upon a time, advocates for standards-based reform promised local schools greater authority and autonomy in return for more rigorous results-based accountability. That's still the right bargain, especially when Uncle Sam is involved. Obviously Education Trust disagrees, and believes in trying to change behavior both through incentives and through old-fashioned rules and regulations. That's its prerogative. It's a liberal advocacy group, after all. But that doesn't mean that members of Congress--Republicans especially--have to go along."

"For the sake of Ed Trust's baby, its cherished NCLB, let's hope it wins the day on accountability and loses the fight on federal micromanagement. Otherwise get ready for No Backlash Left Behind--and another promising reform washed away by the errors of its excess."

-from "Education Trust or bust?" in the Education Gadfly (May 3, 2007

Alexander Russo, This Week in Education

"The Fordham Foundation's Mike Petrilli doesn't seem exactly sure what to say about the Ed Trust's recent NCLB recommendations, which include a provision that would give some states with stronger achievement a little more time past 2014 to get to 100 percent. He praises the Trust -- cautiously -- for finally seeing the light (as he so recently did that I still can't quite forget it). But he's worried about several other recommendations, and also about the Trust's inordinate influence over the process, which pushes other education groups right and left out of the way. What Petrilli's analysis leaves out is that the Trust is effective because it does what few others do: it rolls up its sleeves and works on the law, while everyone else sits back and writes commentaries from afar. If Fordham (or anyone else) wants to have the kind of influence the Trust has -- which I'm not actually sure it does -- it will have to do the same. It will have to work for it."

-from "Is The Education Trust Too Influential, And Are Its NCLB Ideas Worth Considering?" (May 4, 2007)
Brad Bakle, assistant superintendent of secondary education, East Allen County Schools

âWhether or not I agree with all of the recommendations of the Education Trust for the reauthorization of NCLB, I believe that they are taking appropriate steps to review, revise, refine and improve the accountability measures established for the educational community by No Child Left Behind. I respect the efforts the Education Trust in researching and understanding the nuances of NCLB and its commitment to identifying proactive means for improving not only the NCLB Act, but for improving the educational system, as well.â

-from "Local educators grade No Child Left Behind" The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind. (April 23, 2007)

— staff
Education Weel


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