Civil rights activists and school choice advocates have formed a new coalition to lobby for expanded access to and participation in tutoring services available under the No Child Left Behind Act.
“No Child Left Behind is a great tool, and we need it fixed,” Juan Enrique Granados, a parent activist in Dallas, said about the federal law’s provision on supplementary educational services, or SES, at a Capitol Hill event held last week to announce the creation of the coalition. “We have to make sure that SES is there for parents because we need it.”
Mr. Granados and others in the Coalition for Access to Educational Resources say that the NCLB law, which is due for reauthorization this year, needs to be changed to ensure that school districts do everything possible to provide tutoring for eligible students when their schools fail to make student-achievement goals for three consecutive years.
The coalition is supporting a bill that would require districts to document how they informed parents about the availability of the tutoring and other services and would require districts to spend at least 20 percent of their money from the $12.7 billion Title I program on SES. It also would make students eligible for such services if their school did not make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years.
The 5-year-old school improvement law currently allows districts to spend that proportion, but it doesn’t give them any incentive to do so, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the bill’s sponsor, said at the May 16 event.
Parents don’t know the supplemental services are available because districts don’t widely advertise them, and they make it difficult for parents to enroll, said Rep. McKeon, who is the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.
He said he hopes his proposal will be included in the House bill to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law. The House education committee may take up an NCLB bill this summer, with the goal of having the House pass it by the end of the year.
By setting aside money for SES programs and forcing districts to report on their parent outreach, the proposal would spur growth in the number of students using such services, Rep. McKeon and members of the coalition predicted.
About 19 percent of students eligible for SES used those services in the 2004-05 school year, according to a Government Accountability Office study last year. (“House Panel Studies Ways to Boost Tutoring Under NCLB,” Sept. 27, 2006.)
“We are on the defensive in many, many ways,” said Dianne M. Piché, the executive director of the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, a Washington advocacy group that supports the NCLB law and is a member of the new coalition.
Lobbyists for school groups “are coming up here [to Congress] and arguing that the parents’ rights in the law are punishments and sanctions” on schools, Ms. Piché said.
A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2007 edition of Education Week as New Coalition to Lobby For Changes in NCLB’s Provisions on Tutoring