NEA and Civil Rights Community Diverge on Accountability

July 25, 2008 1 min read
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NEA President Reg Weaver defends the Graves-Walz bill to freeze accountability in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. In a letter to the editor, Weaver writes the bill is a “common-sense, moderate approach to NCLB’s current system of snapshot, multiple-choice tests.” He adds that NEA is working with education, civil rights, and other organizations to change NCLB. He’s referring to the Forum on Educational Accountability.

Yes, some civil rights groups are part of the forum. But many more—including the biggest ones—came out against the Graves-Walz bill. Take a look at the following paragraph from the June 18 letter circulated by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights:

LCCR believes that NCLB is a civil rights law, and that some of the requirements of NCLB constitute, in essence, the rights of children to obtain a quality education. The NCLB Recess Until Reauthorization Act calls itself a 'temporary suspension' of those same requirements. Even a temporary suspension of a civil rights law, and therefore of the civil rights of our children, is unconscionable.

The Leadership Conference represents a long list of groups (including the NEA!). It’s founders are some of the most important leaders of the 20th Century’s civil rights movement. It’s voice represents a consensus of the civil rights community. (Charlie Barone gives a complete scorecard of the Graves-Walz’ bill’s opponents.)

There hasn’t been any significant legislative movement this year on NCLB. One source suggested to me that the most important development is the way the civil rights community stopped the Graves-Walz bill before it gained momentum. More than anything else that has happened this year, the statements of LCCR and others will frame the future debate over accountability in federal programs.

AFTERTHOUGHT: In the letter to the Journal, Weaver tries to rebrand NCLB as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It looks as if the NCLB era will end soon—something I suggested in one of this blog’s earliest posts.

This reminds me that I’ll need a new name for my blog. ESEA: Act X doesn’t have a very good ring to it.I’m open to suggestions.

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


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