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Colorado's Bipartisan Opponents to No Child Left Behind Vow to Persist with Passing Memorial to Congress in 2012

Susan Notes:

Congratulations to Angela Engel. Visit her website. Read her book. Follow her good example of persistent, informed resistance.

Tuesday, May 24th
CONTACT: Angela Engel, 303.908.1954

Colorado's Bipartisan Opponents to
No Child Left Behind Vow to Persist with Passing Memorial to Congress in 2012

(May 24, 2011 - Denver, Colo.) This past session, the Colorado General Assembly became the first legislative body in the nation to propose an end to the "No Child Left Behind" act (NCLB). Remarkably, a bipartisan contingent of Republican and Democrat sponsors from both houses introduced a memorial (Colorado Senate Joint Memorial 11-004) to the United States Congress calling for the repeal of the provisions of the 2001 NCLB act. Colorado legislators boldly called for Congress to return to the original intention behind the Elementary Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).

The ESEA was first enacted for the purpose of addressing poverty and directed resources and services to students identified as at-risk. Provisions of the act also expanded support for education through libraries, research, and teacher development. Senate Joint Memorial 11-004 recommended that the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) be used for comparing student achievement on test scores as it provides an optimally useful and common metric for collecting state-wide data already being used for national comparisons.

Senator Greg Brophy, a Republican representing northeastern Colorado, was a prime sponsor of the bill sending the memorial to Congress. Brophy explains, "From a purely economic standpoint, NCLB has just proven to be too costly and ineffective." He adds, "In the past three years Colorado has been forced to cut nearly 600 million dollars to K-12 education. We simply can't keep spending on mandates that yield no return."

Retired teacher and Democratic Representative Judy Solano (D-Brighton) sponsored the bill in the Colorado House. She comments, "No Child Left Behind has created obstacles for students and learning. What is needed, particularly for the growing number of children living in poverty, is opportunity." Childhood poverty in Colorado and around the nation has more than doubled since the passage of NCLB.

The memorial from the Colorado legislators to Congress was conceived and designed by former teacher, and mother of two, Angela Engel. Considered a national authority on education development, Engel, author of the book, Seeds of Tomorrow; Solutions for Improving our Children's Education, has worked with education researchers across the country to forward SJM11-004 as a national model. "There is no research to support that more testing and higher stakes has improved student achievement or American schools." The National Conference of State Legislatures this past February concurred: "If we continue on our current policy path, federal resources, which now account for slightly more than 7 percent of the school budgets, will drag the entire system into the rabbit-hole world where compliance with federal dictums masquerades as reforms," the group said.

Senate Joint Memorial 11-004 was surprisingly successful, passing the Colorado Senate twenty-seven to three. It was supported unanimously in the House Education Committee. House Speaker Frank McNulty, however, refused to move the memorial to the floor. He stated simply, "Time had run out and it would be too costly to extend a special session." Several bills had met a similar doom. "The irony," said Engel, "is that costs more to run legislative bills through twice. Policy makers have been passing accountability policies for everyone else and Speaker McNulty goes home with his job not done; where is the accountability here?"

The memorial will be introduced again next year promises Solano, "In Colorado, both sides of the isle recognize that NCLB has narrowed the curriculum, diminished community involvement and led to overworked teachers working in overcrowded and underfunded classrooms."

Concludes Brophy, "A decade of failure is long enough to learn that national attempts to micro-manage our 178 Colorado school districts is wasteful, unsuccessful, quite arguably a breach of authority."

Co-sponsors of the Memorial also include: Senator Morgan Carroll (D), Representative Tom Massey (R)(House-Ed Committee Chair), Representative Daniel Kagan (D), Representative Jerry Sonnenberg (R), and Representative Joe Miklosi (D).

— Press Release


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