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NCLB Outrages

Michigan Governor Gung-Ho for NCLB

LANSING -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she will call on social services workers, churches and others to help educators fix troubled schools identified under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Granholm told the state Board of Education Thursday that the 14-month-old federal law, backed by President Bush, has problems, but the goal is worthy.

"Let's embrace it, let's move on it," she said. "Let us go forward at 90 miles an hour and say we are not going to leave any child behind."

State officials say that in mid-April they will release a list of a few hundred middle and elementary schools identified as failing to improve under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Schools are being notified in letters going out today.

Those schools have consistently low test scores in math and reading over five years.

Granholm said she plans to be tough on the schools, but help them.

"You have to have high expectations, and you have to have accountability. You have to make sure you have partnerships in making them succeed. Failure is not an option,'' she said.

Granholm said she would use her Children's Action Network, an interagency work group that includes state health, social services and corrections departments, to address the early-childhood programs and schools not making adequate yearly progress.

"My guess is that you would find a high correlation between families serviced by the Family Independence Agency and schools that we may learn are not making adequate yearly progress. So what is it that the FIA can bring to bear on making sure those schools succeed?'' she asked. "Those partnerships are what the state wants to lay on the table.''

She said some of the criticism of No Child Left Behind is valid, including concerns that there isn't enough new federal money to get the job done and that the goal of making every child proficient may not be reasonable.

Supporters of the law point out that federal funding jumped 30 percent between 2000 and 2002, although it has stayed flat since then.

State officials have not released the number of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress, but redefining adequate yearly progress has shaved hundreds off a list of 1,500 from last July. T.J. Bucholz, spokesman for the Department of Education, said there would be fewer than 400 schools on the list.

Deputy state Superintendent Jeremy Hughes said some of those schools are facing serious consequences under the law.

All must offer transportation for students to attend schools with better test scores, although that is unlikely to happen in most schools because the school year is nearly over. Some must also offer after-school tutoring.

A portion of the schools with the most serious problems must also choose an action such as replacing school staff or extending the school year.

Granholm said the state should do whatever it takes to meet the goals.

"If those schools need new leadership, they should get new leadership. If those schools need assistance from the state in making sure the families that feed into those schools are served better, the state should do that,'' she said.

Jim Sandy, of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said he was pleased to hear Granholm's message. The chamber has been pushing for more accountability in Michigan schools for years.

"I was very happy to hear her encourage people to embrace it and get to work on it,'' he said of the legislation.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins has been critical of No Child Left Behind, but said he agrees with Granholm.

"The point is this is the law of the land and we have to implement it,'' he said. "What we want to do is make No Child Left Behind more than just a rhetorical statement.''

Michigan's plan has been identified by federal officials as a model in meshing the new federal requirements with the state's own accreditation system, Education Yes! That plan will grade each school, but has been delayed since December. It was to be out next month, but has been pushed back to a summer release, Bucholz said.

— Judy Putnam
Granholm gung-ho on Bush education plan
March 28, 2003


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