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NCLB Outrages

Rand Paul’s views on education and reform

Ohanian Comment: The outrage here is that the NEA still insists that NCLB needs more funding. Funding is not what's wrong with NCLB. As an independent Progressive, holding hands on education policy with conservatives/Libertarians doesn't scare me as much as the NEA and AFT scare me these days. Paul is right that you can't have it both ways--hold out your hand for Federal $$$ and then tell them "hands off my school."

Surely this is the Quote of the Day: I have yet to meet a teacher who favors No Child Left Behind and the Teacher's Union wants to increase funding for No Child Left Behind?

That said, I don't support Paul's "money follow the child" precept. I believe in public education as a strong bulwark of democracy.

Remember: Federal money is our money. Well, I know, they've got those big printing presses and crank it out for the war and for Wall Street bailouts. But those federal dollars coming to schools (less than 10% of a school budget) are money we sent the Feds. . . and in Vermont we work at equalizing funds so that schools in poor towns get the same per-student state aid as students in wealthy towns.

I come from a state where all three of my Congressional representatives voted against NCLB.

Reader Comment: Just where do you think the federal money comes from, the freakin tooth fairy? Either way you cut it, the money comes from the people. He wants to cut out the bloodsuckers in DC who have nothing to do with educating children but have everything to do with driving our public education to its shameful state and spending billions doing it. It's time to try a new direction. Thank you Dr. Paul!

by Valerie Strauss

The political man of the moment is Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist and political novice who won Kentucky's Republican Senate primary in a sign of the attraction of the tea party's anti-government message.

So let's take a look at his views on education and reform.

Paul has made clear during the campaign that he would, if he could, abolish the Education Department, get rid of No Child Left Behind, eliminate all federal funding to education and encourage competition.

Of course, state and local governments are so strapped for money that without federal funding, it would be hard to see how public schools could continue to operate even at the much-criticized level they do now. But maybe that's his real point.

Here is a questionnaire that the National Education Association gave to candidates across the country, which Paul answered and posted on his Web site:

Question 1. NEA opposes any federal voucher plan, including demonstrations programs. Do you support or oppose NEAâs position?

Answer: Oppose

Paul says, "Parents should decide where to spend each childâs portion of school taxes. Just as with the GI Bill the funds should follow the student to the school of choice. Competition breeds excellence."

Question 2. Improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

a. NEA supports an accountability system that measures schools on more than two statewide test scores. NEA supports giving states the flexibility to design accountability systems that include statewide assessments and other measures, such as local assessments, teacher-designed classroom assessments collected over time, student portfolios and other measures of student learning, graduation/dropout rates, in-grade retention, the percent of students taking honors/advanced classes and AP Exams, and college enrollment rates. Assessment systems must be appropriate, valid and reliable for all groups of students, including students with disabilities and English Language Learners. NEA believes that school quality cannot be fairly or accurately measured by the current No Child Left Behind accountability provisions. Do you support or oppose NEA's position?

Paul says, "I would have voted no on No Child Left Behind. Decisions on education should occur at the state and local level by teachers, administrators, school boards, and parents."

b. NEA supports the inclusion of ESEA of provision to allow states, districts, and schools to measure growth in student learning over time, rather than the current snapshot that is taken on one day. Do you support or oppose NEA's position?

Paul says, "Opposed to reauthorizing any federal control of schools. Would work to repeal No Child Left Behind."

c. NEA supports a dedicated federal funding stream to assist states and school districts by hiring additional highly qualified teachers to reduce class sizes to ensure that all students receive the individualized attention they need and to help teacher in maintaining an orderly classroom environment. NEA supports the inclusion of ESEA of a program to provide funds to assist states to reduce class size in targeted grades and schools. Do you support or oppose NEA's position?

Paul says, "I am against any federal funding or control of education. Historically, education was funded and controlled locally. Even now, most funding is local. You can't have it both ways. Most teachers despise No Child Left Behind. If you want to be rid of it, you must also oppose federal funds!

d. NEA also supports a combination of federal programs -- through direct grants and tax subsidies to states and school districts -- for school modernization to build schools for the 21st century equipped with technology and modern equipment, that accommodate small class sizes, and that are safe and conductive to teaching and learning. Do you support or oppose NEA's position?

Dr. Paul says, "Revenue for education should be local. Once you allow the federal government in, you lose control."

e. NEA supports the following proposals to improve teacher and other educator quality:

* Revising ESEA Title II -- the Teacher Quality State Grant program -- to align federally funded teacher professional development with National Staff Development Council Standards

* Providing federal funding for salary enhancements for teachers who achieve certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

* Expanding federal support for high-quality mentoring programs for new teachers

* Providing funding for high quality, ongoing professional development for educators

* Providing financial incentives to attract and retain high-quality teachers in hard-to-staff schools.

Do you support of oppose NEA's position?

Paul says, "There is no Constitutional enumeration for federal education. The Constitution allows states and cities to participate in education; period."

f. NEA supports inclusion of programs in ESEA that help enhance family and community involvement with students and schools. These programs would provide family literacy training, parenting classes, and translators for parent-teacher conferences. The programs would also encourage school-parent compacts signed by parents, require, as part of ESEA professional development programs, the skills and knowledge needed for effective parental and family communication, and expand funding for ESEA's Parent Information and Resource Centers. Do you support or oppose NEA's position?

Paul says, "As long as funding and control is local."

3. Increase Funding For the No Child Left Behind Act and for IDEA

a. NEA supports substantial increases in funding for No Child Left Behind programs, particularly Title I. Do you support or oppose NEA's position?

Paul says, "I have yet to meet a teacher who favors No Child Left Behind and the Teacher's Union wants to increase funding for No Child Left Behind?

b. NEA supports fully funding special education (IDEA). Do you support or oppose NEA's position?

Dr. Paul says, "I support state and local funding for all facets of education."

Meanwhile, Paul's Web site has a list of issues--with accompanying positions--that are, presumably, important to Paul. Here is the list:

Bailouts, National Defense, Inflation, Taxes & Debt, Term Limits, Privacy & Liberty, Sovereignty, Veterans, Guns & Politicians, Energy Innovation, Federal Reserve, Health Care, Campaign Finance Reform, and Abortion. And there is one more, the only one related to education. It is called "Homeschooling."

The short version of his position on this topic:
Rand proposes to restore the parental right to be responsible in educating children. He supports reduced taxes so that parents can allocate more of their own funds to homeschooling, if they so desire.

The longer version:

As the Federal Government has increased the size and budget of the Department of Education, test scores and scholastic performance have markedly dropped. More money, more bureaucracy, and more government intervention are eroding this nationâs educational standards. Meanwhile, home-schooled children continue to excel as evidenced by their test scores and rapidly growing admission rate into some of the nationâs most prestigious educational institutions.

Rand proposes to restore the parental right to be responsible in educating children. He supports reduced taxes so that parents can allocate more of their own funds to homeschooling, if they so desire. He seeks to prevent the Department of Education from regulating homeschooling and will fight to keep the Federal Governmentâs hands out of this promising alternative to conventional education. Rand recognizes the potential and scholarly prowess of homeschooling and will ensure that homeschoolers are allowed the freedom to compete alongside those who attend public and private schools.

What do you make of all of this? Is Rand extreme when it comes to education reform? Are his ideas workable?

— Valerie Strauss
Washington Post Answer Sheet


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