WASHINGTON Feb 5 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
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
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
"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."