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Senate proposal to reauthorize No Child Left Behind meets opposition

A diverse group of organizations have rejected the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2011, recently passed by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and that will now move to the full Senate. A letter (.pdf) signed by 20 organizations states:

As representatives of the millions of students with disabilities, low-income students, students of color, English-language learners and migrant students who are studying in our nation’s schools, both boys and girls, we cannot support the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011 at this time. The bill’s weak accountability system excludes the vast majority of children we represent, and is a major barrier to our organizations’ support.

The letter adds that under the proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011:

States would not have to set any measurable achievement and progress targets or even graduation rate goals. They would be required to take action to improve only a small number of low-performing schools. In schools which aren’t among the states’ very worst performing, huge numbers of low-achieving students will slip through the cracks.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Senate committee proposed “dismantling a controversial accountability system set up” by No Child Left Behind.

The Monitor adds: “The proposed new law retains a historic federal requirement that schools test students annually in math and reading – and publish the results of those tests, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and poverty.”

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first passed in 1965 and amended by the No Child Left Behind Act proposed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and signed into law in 2002. *Education Week *describes No Child Left Behind as “a comprehensive education plan that would hold states accountable for student performance based on annual assessments, but would give schools more flexibility in meeting federal regulations.”

No Child Left Behind content includes annual tests, vouchers, education technology, charter schools, school choice and teacher quality — all central to the education agenda already in place in Florida because of former Gov. Jeb Bush and that has the support of current Gov. Rick Scott.

The Florida Department of Education writes that No Child Left Behind

recognizes what truly makes a difference in providing a quality education. It calls for a highly qualified teacher in the core subjects in every classroom; the use of proven, research-based instructional methods; and timely information and options for parents. Schools that underperform are held accountable, providing their students with free tutoring or transfer to a better performing public school.

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