Federal

Tracking ‘Rebellion’

July 26, 2005 2 min read
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The so-called states’ rebellion over the No Child Left Behind Act has reached new status in cyberspace.

A Web site, www.nclbrebellion.org is now tracking states’ efforts to change the 3½-year-old federal law.

Started this month by the Washington-based nonprofit group Communities for Quality Education, the site aims to show that calls for changes to the law are coming from all corners of the United States.

“There is a lot of sentiment building against this law. We’d like to see it change; we’d like to see it improved,” said Samantha Anderson, a spokeswoman for CQE, founded last year by John Hein, a former president of the California Teachers Association.

The Web site details how leaders in 47 states have called for changes to the federal law, to one extent or another, as the time for the 2007 reauthorization of the law approaches. It also includes links to newspaper articles from around the country about the NCLB law.

Ms. Anderson said CQE wants “greater dialogue about what schools actually need,” rather than just sanctions against schools and districts that don’t meet their test-score targets. The law should concentrate instead on efforts to help low-performing schools, she said, suggesting that classes should be smaller, teachers should be better trained, and the latest technology should be available.

“A punitive measure against a school doesn’t help the problem,” she argued. “Busing a student away from a school [that needs improvement] doesn’t help improve the school.”

But not everyone agrees that the rebellion is out of hand—or even that there’s a rebellion at all.

Last week, federal officials said improvements in some grades on the National Assessment for Educational Progress show the law is working.

“The remarkable results released last week show that a strong focus on closing the achievement gap as embodied in No Child Left Behind is reaping great benefits, and America’s students deserve our best efforts to tenaciously stay the course,” U.S. Department of Education spokeswoman Susan Aspey wrote in an e-mail response. (“South Posts Big Gains on Long-Term NAEP in Reading and Math,” this issue.)

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has downplayed talk of a rebellion, saying most states aim to comply with the law and are making the right changes in their policies.

Ms. Anderson agreed that the best parts of the No Child Left Behind Act are the ones requiring academic improvements for minority students.

The disagreement comes in how to provide students, and all schools that serve struggling students, the extra help they need, she said.

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