US states, local governments plead for new 'No Child Left Behind'

WASHINGTON Tue Feb 5, 2013 12:35pm EST

WASHINGTON Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. state and local officials again called on Congress to pass renewed "No Child Left Behind" education legislation, writing in a letter on Tuesday that it must become "a top priority for every member of the House and Senate."

Nearly a year ago - on Feb. 6, 2012 - the same groups, including the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National School Boards Association, made a similar plea to re-authorize the federal education funding law.

No Child Left Behind tied funding to students' performance on standardized tests, and penalized schools for "failing" - measures that educators and lawmakers, including current Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have said were too restrictive.

The law nominally expired five years ago and states have operated under funding extensions, as well as President Barack Obama's smaller grants such as "Race to the Top."

In late 2011 Obama also offered states waivers to some parts of No Child Left Behind, as long as they followed his requirements on college preparation, testing and boosting graduation rates.

"Waivers will work for some states but will not work for all," the groups wrote on Tuesday to members of both houses. "Moreover, waivers only provide temporary relief from specific provisions of the law and in exchange require new criteria of states, school districts and schools."

State and local governments receive about 10 percent of their education funds from the federal government but public schools take up huge chunks of their budgets.

The 2007-09 recession drove down their revenues, particularly the property taxes that cities and school districts use for the bulk of education funding. The 2009 federal economic stimulus plan provided extra money for education, most of which was distributed by the end of 2010 and for two years, they have had to patch together funding.

"As we struggle to reallocate scarce federal resources and face economic uncertainty, we need greater federal funding flexibility," the groups said.

Democrats in the House of Representatives blasted a proposal from Republicans last month on legislation to renew the law, with the head of the Education Committee, George Miller, saying it "abandons students, parents, and taxpayers," and "undermines programs for our most vulnerable students."

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Comments (1)
tymann wrote:
I teach in Rialto, CA. I work with a credit retrieval program that helps students to make up for moments of bad decisions and bad judgment. The Rialto USD tries hard to prepare students for the next step both academically and vocationally, but the problem is bigger than that.
In America, learning has suffered from prolonged exposure to education. Education is simply the venue through which we funnel that which we feel needs to be understood by common man in order to consider him enlightened and properly cultivated. Over time, those concepts valued for learning have changed so dramatically that the well-informed man of today would not be recognized by the proponents of modern education, much less the founders of classical education.
The fragmented thought of modern man has taken on roughly the shape of a porcelain vase. Anything vague and amorphous poured into the container will take the prescribed shape, but the surrounding structure can be shattered with little effort. The reason for this fragile framework is because of the fact that we no longer stand on absolutes. In my opinion, our lack of universal absolutes is what brings this country closer to the edge of oblivity than ever before.
Dignity and freedom were once the cornerstone ideals of the free world, and education was the capstone that held together the belief that something better was yet to be achieved. Now that nothing is engraved in stone, education has become a windsock inflated by prevailing winds and pointing toward whatever that wind has blown past. The free education that our country offers has become worth what we pay for it. Sadly, the hidden cost has been our viability on the world market of thought.
I am writing observations without suggesting solutions because there may not be any. On the world stage, we are a political and social joke to many. The inevitable implosion of our house-of-cards economy only seems less absurd in light of our mood-ring system of values and morals. Education in America cannot long survive when fundamental definitions change with the winds of popularity and endless gratuitous self-gratification.
Tyler Manners
Rialto USD

Feb 05, 2013 1:09pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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