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NCLB Outrages

ichigan working hard to follow NCLB precepts

It comes as no surprise to learn this apologist for NCLB (and Michigan's state superintendent of public instruction) never spent a single day as a K-12 classroom teacher before becoming a local district superintendent.

by Mike Flanagan

I am writing in response to the inaccuracies presented in Dec. 5 Viewpoint Adherence to NCLB is leaving Michigan Behind. The author makes a number of misconceived claims regarding the Michigan Department of Education's perspective on the No Child Left Behind Act and its observance to its guiding principles.

Every reform initiative has its challenges. NCLB is no exception. However, the accountability it brings will have a positive impact for our students and this state for generations to come.

The Michigan Department of Education always has supported the spirit of NCLB that all students can learn and achieve at higher levels, regardless of race, culture, background, or disability (with the exception of the severely cognitively impaired).

There are areas of the NCLB law that need strengthening and aspects of it in which the state does not agree.

Yet, as a result of our state's national stature, I was able to express our concerns regarding NCLB during my select testimony to the U.S. Senate Education Committee last February.

State Board of Education President Kathleen Straus, representing Michigan and the National Association of State Boards of Education, reiterated these same concerns to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education this past summer.

The Viewpoint column suggested the federal requirement that all students be proficient in key subject areas by 2014 was unfair. We must commit ourselves and at least try to achieve that goal, as the reality is that this competitive global economy will not wait and does not care if our children are ready and able to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The author also implied our state tests lacked provisions for students with disabilities or those who do not speak English. This couldn't be further from the truth. I read with astonishment the author's notion that schools would need to "recruit" poor or special needs students to meet the accountability standards. Not only is this unethical, but that clearly is not the intention of the law.

NCLB is a complex law that still is a work-in-progress - not only on the federal level, but at the state level as well. Nevertheless, Michigan is working hard to implement this law, despite its critics who would rather hold back our students with the status quo. Change is needed and though we may not always get it right the first time, our mission is always to give every child the highest quality education.

Education is a key element to the revitalization of Michigan. It will be a knowledgeable and skilled work force that will lead this state into the 21st Century global economy. This is why Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the State Board of Education, MDE and the Legislature had the foresight to develop and implement the rigorous high school graduation requirements.

It will be knowledge and talent that turns our state around, not just lowering taxes.

— Mike Flanagan
Lansing State Journal


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