Kennedy Listens to NCLB’s Liberal Critics

December 19, 2007 1 min read

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is reaching out to some of NCLB’s fiercest critics.

As I reported in the current issue of Education Week, the chairman of the Senate education committee met with the leaders of the national teacher’s unions. Now, author Jonathan Kozol posts an open letter describing his meeting with Sen. Kennedy. (Link courtesy of Alexander Russo’s This Week in Washington.)

In Mr. Kozol’s recounting of the Dec. 5 meeting, Sen. Kennedy was receptive to the liberal author’s criticisms of the law. In particular, Mr. Kozol says, they talked about NCLB’s testing requirements (which Mr. Kozol calls “punitive and demoralizing”) and the lack of opportunity for students to transfer out of their districts. Mr. Kozol, who has been on what he calls a partial hunger strike, outlined the rest of his ideas in a seven-page letter to the senator.

Mr. Kozol reports he’s optimistic that Sen. Kennedy is open to big changes to NCLB. That would be a dramatic shift. Although President Bush takes credit for NCLB’s testing-and-accountability rules, they never would have passed Congress if Sen. Kennedy hadn’t agreed with him.

There’s more to come. Mr. Kozol writes that he’s scheduled to meet with the senator again in January.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.