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NCLB Outrages

Forget Kennedy 'fix'; let the No Child Act die

Ohanian Comment: Of course Bill Archer is right. The Kennedy plan will make things worse. . . and waste more of our tax dollars. Remember, these are our dollars creating havoc in the schools.

By Bill Archer

Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy thinks he can fix the 6-year-old No Child Left Behind Act by finding more money to support the elements that have been unfunded during its existence. The dramatic damage done already to public schools by its requirements will be compounded if he succeeds.

Meanwhile, three states have successfully challenged the federal government's arbitrary imposition of the act under a passage in the Constitution called the spending clause.

Recently, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati (6th Circuit) has ruled that the NCLB Act failed to provide clear notice as to who bears the additional costs of compliance. It also noted that because states had been required to spend state and local money to meet requirements of the federal law, their "injury has already occurred and is ongoing."

Locally, our own school districts have had to cut positions and services because of the extraordinary costs for compliance with the dysfunctional NCLB Act's requirements; requirements that have wreaked havoc on county budgets and schools.

One school in Volusia County is in the later stages of corrective sanctions under NCLB because it has failed to meet its arbitrary annual yearly progress requirements. It is now in the "restructuring" phase that could result in its being torn down and its teachers involuntarily redistributed. Ironically this elementary school has been a consistent "A" school under the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test process while simultaneously failing the NCLB standard for five years.

Both the controversial FCAT and the failing NCLB are signature education reform programs initiated by former Gov. Jeb Bush and President George W. Bush that have compounded the difficulty of narrowing the achievement gap between whites and others. Kennedy admits "aspects of the law have not been satisfactory, and some have been failures." But the devil is in the details of such a statement.

The calamitous results of the NCLB can't be minimized. Go to http://www.susanohanian.org or http://www.educatorroundtable.org to see the disastrous "aspects" that are ongoing in Texas, Michigan and Vermont. And Florida won't be far behind in becoming another NCLB statistic if Kennedy succeeds in reauthorizing or "fixing" it.

If those in government are really interested in achieving what Kennedy describes as the fundamental goal of the Democratic Party, "opportunity for all," they will support local and state educators who know what to do. Otherwise, it's just the same old political football that is used to perpetuate partisan differences and divert attention from the real consequences their "education reform" game creates for students, teachers and school districts.

Kennedy asks us "to draw the right lessons from these past six years with the No Child Left Behind Act." The conclusion I draw is that it was a dismal and destructive failure. And remember the ruling the federal appeals court judges made in the case of the three states, their "injury has already occurred and is ongoing." It's time to stop the games!

Archer, a school counselor, lives in Daytona Beach.

— Bill Archer
Daytona Beach News-Journal


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