March 16, 2007
States could opt out of 'No
Child' Bill facing an uphill battle
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON A plan introduced in
Congress on Thursday that would allow states to opt out of the
No Child Left Behind law without losing federal funds does not
appear to have a bright future.
Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., author of the legislation in the House,
contends the plan is needed to free school districts from what
he says are increasingly onerous testing requirements and the
threat of losing federal funding when goals are not met.
academics have suffered because under No Child Left Behind the
emphasis is on the subject matters that are being tested," he
Hoekstra said the bill would provide local schools with more
freedom and flexibility and reduce administrative costs while
ensuring states and communities are held responsible for
bill received a chilly reception from Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.,
who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee.
whose position enables him to control the flow of education
legislation in the House, called the Republican sponsored bill
"irresponsible and unacceptable."
lawmakers - including Reps. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township,
and Zack Space, D-Dover - had not had a chance to review the
legislation as of Thursday.
LAWMAKERS WEIGH IN
Regula said it would be "premature to allow for states to no
longer abide by the law." He added that problems with No Child
Left Behind should be examined as lawmakers seek to reauthorize
the law this year.
said he supports the "underlying concepts" of the law "because
we can hardly afford to abandon high education standards as we
prepare our students to compete in the global economy."
George Voinovich, R-Cleveland, originally an opponent of No
Child Left Behind, favors changes in the law to give schools
more flexibility, his spokesman Chris Paulitz said.
Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, has criticized the administration and
Congress for not providing enough funding to states to carry out
'NO CHILD' DOES
landmark education law requires schools to meet academic
proficiency goals as measured by federally mandated tests.
Schools whose students fail to make progress can lose federal
President Bush, a champion of the law, has defended it as a
means of making sure schools are held accountable to provide a
quality education to all students. Bush favors reauthorization
of the law.
say schools have not received enough federal funding to carry
out the mandates of the law, which they say needs revision.
Hoekstra bill would allow a state to opt out of the No Child
Left Behind requirements without losing federal funding as long
as the state promised to provide annual reports to the public
demonstrating student progress.
state's governor and legislature, governor and top education
official, or top education official and legislature would have
to agree to withdraw from the law's mandates.
bill is co-sponsored by 51 Republican lawmakers, including House
Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri. No Ohio lawmakers are
co-sponsors of the bill.
legislation introduced by Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and John
Cornyn, R-Texas, would allow states to negotiate an agreement
with the federal government to escape the law's mandates.
and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who chairs the Senate Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, favor reauthorizing No
Child Left Behind with large increases in federal funding and
criticized the House bill, saying it would "send billions of
federal taxpayer dollars to the states with no accountability
for how it is spent."
committee is engaged in a serious bipartisan effort to improve
the No Child Left Behind law, based on understandable concerns
with the law raised by parents, teachers, administrators and
others," he said.
accused Hoekstra and the GOP co-sponsors of the bill of "trying
to dismantle" the law.