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Departing in Protest

State officials across the country have been haggling with the U.S. Department of Education for more flexibility in complying with the new federal K-12 law.

One disgruntled state board member has gone further: He decided that the best way to register his protest over the law was by quitting.

William R. Weinberg announced his resignation from the Kentucky state board of education in the middle of the board's Nov. 13 meeting to discuss how to change its accountability system to meet the mandates of the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001.

William R. Weinberg

The law will require Kentucky to make too many changes to its model accountability program, and will eventually declare too many of the state's schools failures, Mr. Weinberg told his colleagues. The Democrat went on to submit a letter of resignation to Gov. Paul E. Patton later that day.

"At best, No Child Left Behind is a federal unfunded mandate and a law that just is an unwarranted intrusion into state and local public education," Mr. Weinberg said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper. "At worst, it's a cynical attempt by the Bush administration to finally put together over time such a poor record of public education ... that it winds up being an excuse for them to move into vouchers."

Shortly after he told his colleagues he would be submitting his resignation to the governor, the board adjourned for lunch. Mr. Weinberg then shook hands with other members, left, and didn't return for the afternoon session, according to Lisa Y. Gross, the press secretary for the Kentucky Department of Education.

Mr. Weinberg was out of the country last week and did not respond to messages left at his home and office.

A former state legislator, he had been on the state board since 1998. Gov. Patton, a Democrat, appointed him to a second four-year term last spring. His wife, Lois Combs Weinberg, an education activist and the daughter of a former Kentucky governor, tried unsuccessfully to unseat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, in this month's election.

Mr. Weinberg had been expressing frustration over the new federal K-12 law, Ms. Gross said, so his decision to leave the board wasn't totally shocking. "The timing was a surprise," she said.

—David J. Hoff

Vol. 22, Issue 13, Page 17

Published in Print: November 27, 2002, as State Journal

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