The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures is coming out with a devastating report tomorrow that reportedly shreds the Bush administration over the No Child Left Behind Act. A special task force on the federal law will hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., and the report will be posted on the NCSL website at noon here.
The New York Times previews the study:
The report, based on hearings in six cities, praised the law’s goal of ending the gap in scholastic achievement between white and minority students. But most of the 77-page report, which the Education Department rebutted yesterday, was devoted to a detailed inventory and discussion of its flaws.
It said the law’s accountability system, which punishes schools whose students fail to improve steadily on standardized tests, undermined school improvement efforts already under way in many states and relied on the wrong indicators. The report said that the law’s rules for educating disabled students conflict with another federal law, and that it presented bureaucratic requirements that failed to recognize the tapestry of educational challenges faced by teachers in the nation’s 15,000 school districts.
“Under N.C.L.B., the federal government’s role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education,” the National Conference of State Legislatures said in the report, which was written by a panel of 16 state legislators and 6 legislative staff members.
Several education experts said the panel had accurately captured the views of thousands of state lawmakers, and local educators. If that is so, the report suggests that the Bush administration could face continuing friction with states and school districts as the Department of Education seeks to carry out the law in coming months.
Nine state legislatures are considering various challenges to the law, and the Utah Senate is about to vote on a bill, already approved by the House, that would require state education officials to give priority to Utah’s education laws rather than to the federal law. An Illinois school district filed a lawsuit against the Education Department this month in federal court, arguing that No Child Left Behind contradicts provisions of the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
The Washington Times has more details on GOP complaints about the act:
New York State Sen. Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, a co-chairman of the task force, said that although the idea for No Child Left Behind originated in the states, it is the states that are paying for tighter government restrictions.
“We believe the federal government’s role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education,” he said. “States that were once pioneers are now captives of a one-size-fits-all educational accountability system.”
And the Houston Chronicle profiles staunch Utah Republican Margaret Dayton, a state representative leading her state’s charge against the law:
Make no mistake, Utah state Rep. Margaret Dayton has thrown down a gauntlet before the U.S. Department of Education.
Her bill demanding that Utah put state education priorities and dollars ahead of the federal No Child Left Behind Act passed the House last week and is expected to clear the state Senate.
And the staunch Republican is evolving into the de facto leader for dozens of states looking for an effective way to challenge President Bush’s high-profile education law.
Most interestingly, the report tomorrow comes to the conclusion that the No Child Left Behind Act is unconstitutional. From the Times:
One chapter of the report says that the Constitution does not delegate powers to educate the nation’s citizens to the federal government, thereby leaving education under state control. The report contends that No Child Left Behind has greatly expanded federal powers to a degree that is unconstitutional..
“This assertion of federal authority into an area historically reserved to the states has had the effect of curtailing additional state innovations and undermining many that had occurred during the past three decades,” the report said.
“The task force does not believe that N.C.L.B. is constitutional,” it said.
Wonder how Armstrong Williams and the other knee-jerk Bushbots for NCLB would respond to that?
Insert cricket-chirping sound effects here.
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