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Four New Education Bills Introduced: Rearranging No Child Left Behind’s Deck Chairs

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Four New Education Bills Introduced:

Rearranging No Child Left Behind’s Deck Chairs

By Linda Dobson

DeckChairs No Child Left Behind

Even Finland will envy America's public school system once these babies get passed!

What do you do when it’s obvious very few schools will meet requirements of old education legislation like No Child Left Behind (NCLB)? If you’re a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, you introduce more legislation intended to “increase the state role and decrease the federal one,” according to an Atlanta Constitution Journal blog post titled “GOP senators introduce rewrite of No Child Left Behind to make it more flexible.”

I’m all for getting the federal government hand out of education to any extent, but I think it makes a lot more sense to dump NCLB and start the states off with a clean slate. “The senators said that for the nation’s 100,000 public schools, the legislation would end the federal mandates through which Washington, D.C., decides which schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.” (One deck chair moved.)

Alas, the changes aren’t as hands-off as they may first appear to be, and here’s why: Since No Child Left Behind came on the scene in 2002, “44 states have adopted common core academic standards, two groups of states are developing common tests for those standards, and more than 40 states are developing common principles for holding schools accountable for student achievement.” Falling in line with using what can alternatively be called a “national curriculum” was one of the hoops set forth by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as he hands out NCLB waivers in actions that totally by-passed Congressional approval.

Senators’ Take on What’s Wrong with No Child Left Behind

Fixes, of course, depend on what the senators see wrong with NCLB as it exists. With the new bills they want to hand over to the states more flexibility to:

– Improve state accountability systems

– Improve teacher and principal professional development programs

– Consolidate federal education programs to give state and local education leaders more freedom in meeting local needs

– Expand the number of charter schools

Yeah, guys, that list looks like it will fix everything that’s wrong with public schools today. :::Take a moment to wipe off the dripping sarcasm if you’d like:::

Legislation to Rearrange No Child Left Behind Deck Chairs

As we all know, there’s nothing like legislation to help a child learn, so here is a summary of education’s magic bullet legislation. Even Finland will envy America’s public school system once these babies get passed!

The Elementary and Secondary Education Amendments Act of 2011 establishes a national “college- and career-readiness” goal with accountability systems developed by states without interference by the federal government on state standards or assessments. It eliminates the Washington-based Adequate Yearly Progress system and asks states to identify their lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. It also frees states to establish their own teacher licensure and certification requirements; maintains public reporting requirements; and dramatically simplifies the Title 1 State plans to reduce paperwork and federal interference.

The Teacher and Principal Improvement Act of 2011 helps states and local school districts prepare, train, and recruit effective teachers and principals to improve student achievement. States and local school districts would be allowed to develop their own teacher and principal evaluation systems, as well as their own needs assessments to better pinpoint professional development for teachers and principals. It maintains strong reporting requirements to empower parents and the community. It authorizes the Teacher Incentive Fund to allow states and school districts to compete to find ways to pay teachers and principals more for teaching well. It reduces paperwork through simplified Title II State plans.

The Empowering Local Education Decision Making Act of 2011 streamlines 59 programs into two flexible foundational block grants. It puts states and local school districts in charge by allowing them the flexibility to choose the programs and initiatives that meet their unique needs. Creates the “Fund for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning” and the “Safe and Healthy Students Block Grant.”

The Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act 2011 modernizes the Charter School Program by encouraging the expansion of successful charter school models, streamlines the program to reduce administrative burdens and improve funding opportunities, allows successful charter school management organizations and local education agencies to apply directly to the federal government, and encourages sharing of best practices between charter schools and traditional public schools.

There you go. Keep an eye on your public school because all the children’s test scores will be going up, up, up…any day now…

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