Finally, there's an all-out clarion call being made by some serious folks on both sides of the divide regarding NCLB, exposing it for what it is- "flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional..."
It wouldn't be much news if it were the usual suspects, that being all the teachers, education specialists and students who are on the frontlines being systematically slaughtered by what a lot of us (educators) have been claiming all along is an intentional push for the dismantling of public education as a for-profit venture (heck, it's an annual 800 billion dollar booty!)
But no, THIS is the National Conference of State Legislatures and this is the result of their year-long bipartisan study of the effects of NCLB on public education.
From today's New York Times
Report Faults Bush Initiative on Education
By SAM DILLON
Concluding a yearlong study on the effectiveness of President Bush's sweeping education law, No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers drawn from many states yesterday pronounced it a flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional education reform initiative that had usurped state and local control of public schools.
The report, based on hearings in six cities, praised the law's goal of ending the gap in scholastic achievement between white and minority students. But most of the 77-page report, which the Education Department rebutted yesterday, was devoted to a detailed inventory and discussion of its flaws.
It said the law's accountability system, which punishes schools whose students fail to improve steadily on standardized tests, undermined school improvement efforts already under way in many states and relied on the wrong indicators. The report said that the law's rules for educating disabled students conflicted with another federal law, and that it presented bureaucratic requirements that failed to recognize the tapestry of educational challenges faced by teachers in the nation's 15,000 school districts.
"Under N.C.L.B., the federal government's role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education," the National Conference of State Legislatures said in the report, which was written by a panel of 16 state legislators and 6 legislative staff members.
Several education experts said the panel had accurately captured the views of thousands of state lawmakers, and local educators. If that is so, the report suggests that the Bush administration could face continuing friction with states and school districts as the Department of Education seeks to carry out the law in coming months.
Nine state legislatures are considering various challenges to the law, and the Utah Senate is about to vote on a bill, already approved by the House, that would require state education officials to give priority to Utah's education laws rather than to the federal law. An Illinois school district filed a lawsuit against the Education Department this month in federal court, arguing that No Child Left Behind contradicted provisions of the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA.
The National Conference represents 50 state legislatures, with membership split directly down the middle in terms of numbers of Dems and Repugs (peppered with some smaller party reps).
Roy Simon, talking head for the Dept. of Ed, had this to say:
"The department will continue to work with every state to address their concerns and make this law work for their children," Mr. Simon said in a statement. "But the report could be interpreted as wanting to reverse the progress we've made."
He added: "No Child Left Behind is bringing new hope and new opportunity to families throughout America, and we will not reverse course."
Translation: New hope for those families who will profit from the privatization of American schools- like, those who want that pesky First Amendment out of the way so they can pimp their dogmas without obstacle, or like the families who own for-profits that would stand to make millions on the open market should the End of Days come to be for public ed.
Case in point:
Several groups that strongly support the federal law took issue with the report.
"My big concern is they did a better job of pinpointing problems than identifying solutions," said Susan Traiman, a director at the Business Roundtable, a group that represents top corporate executives. "Most of what they call for would be a reversal that would turn back the clock on what N.C.L.B. is trying to accomplish, all in the name of federalism."
Federalism? I thought conservatives (the ones currently driving this train wreck) wanted LESS government? A weak frame, indeed. No one's falling for it, though.
One chapter of the report says that the Constitution does not delegate powers to educate the nation's citizens to the federal government, thereby leaving education under state control. The report contends that No Child Left Behind has greatly expanded federal powers to a degree that is unconstitutional.
"This assertion of federal authority into an area historically reserved to the states has had the effect of curtailing additional state innovations and undermining many that had occurred during the past three decades," the report said.
"The task force does not believe that N.C.L.B. is constitutional," it said.
But Steve Kelley, a Democrat who serves in the Minnesota Senate and a co-chairman of the task force, said the conference had no intention of going to court.
Although, the prospect of taking this baby to court looks mighty promising, at this point...
What will it take, I wonder, for this to happen?
For a quick primer on what's bad about NCLB, go here. Nel Noddings, in Education Week, puts it very simply.
For the latest on NCLB, go here. Susan Ohanian is an authority and a one-teacher riot. She's the definitive source for keeping us up on this sham.