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NCLB Outrages

Officials Frustrated with No Child Law

Lots of finger pointing but nobody standing up and saying "No! We're as mad as hell and we aren't going to do this any more.

The applause from a group of about 60 school officials on Monday indicated just how frustrated school officials are with the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The question was about how realistic the expectations are in the law that says 100 percent of students in each school must meet academic standards by 2014. In 2004, 40 percent must meet the standards, but the percentage increases each year.

"What's clear is all schools will be under sanctions. The intention of this law is not about teaching and learning," said Becky McCabe, student assessment division manager for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Her response drew applause from the parents, school board members and school employees who gathered at Oak Terrace School in Highwood during a forum sponsored by state Sen. Susan Garrett of Lake Forest. On the panel were officials with the Illinois State Board of Education and the executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

McCabe said the state board of education is responsible for following the law, and making changes requires changing state or federal law.

Garrett took note of that and said she has asked if the state legislature could make changes in connection with the No Child Left Behind law. The federal answer was changes will be considered at the federal level in 2007, she said.

Illinois Association of School Boards Executive Director John Mannix said he has talked with both state and federal officials about the law.

"There is a lot of finger-pointing going back and forth," Mannix said.

Later, he said, "I think you can agree the No Child Left Behind leaves more questions than answers."

It is "a laudable concept" but it is "a confusing, conflicting, contrary piece of legislation that conflicts with other laws, rules and regulations," he said.

He also said there is no such thing as a failing school.

"It is a school in need of improvement. Are we not all in need of improvement?" Mannix said.

— C. L. Waller
Dailly Herald [suburban Chicago]


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