Sunday, January 6, 2008

NCLB Resolutions

A new year, a new start, and an upcoming new session of my state's legislature where something not so new, NCLB, is again a hot issue. When the session opens in February, it is likely there will be a proposal in the Senate to end Minnesota's participation in NCLB, an action that has been proposed in the past by the Democrats, but this year it will be proposed by the Republicans!

From Minneapolis StarTribune Jan. 2 article:
"What we want is to make a real firm stand for local control," said Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, who added that he represents Senate Republicans on this issue. "We've had five years of the No Child Left Behind regime, and I think it's safe to call it a failure now. We're giving it an F and trying to take back our schools."

There's been no response from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty – not surprising since he has Vice Presidential aspirations.

While there is a feeling among state legislators that NCLB is no longer a state action, it's also true that the consequences and the funding of the increasingly numerous and complex federal education proposals are state responsibilities. And the state needs to pay attention as its education resources are co-opted as more and more districts, including my own, are forced to spend human and financial capital developing complex "improvement plans" based on impossibly unrealistic expectations for very small disaggregate populations.

My school's plan was necessitated by a small number of special education students who are now in the high school, which doesn't have to write a plan.

I'm eager for Minnesota to emulate Nebraska and regain our tradition of education excellence and progressivism. I'm attending my precinct caucus on February 5 to declare that it's past time for our state to wait and see what Congress does. Any changes in elected officials are a year away. It is time that state actions put pressure on Congress to listen to education and testing experts, to look at school and classroom realities, to put students above political rhetoric, and to provide federal funding for federal mandates.

That's my story. I'd love to hear yours. What's the outlook in your state? In your school?

[To keep in touch with NCTE's NCLB reform efforts and for resources in taking action yourself, check out NCTE's Education Issues Action Center.]