NEA TO CHALLENGE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
A majority of the 8,200 delegates gathered for the National Education Association’s annual convention overwhelmingly approved a plan that would push for aggressive changes to the federal No Child Left Behind law, which is up for reauthorization next year. The nation's largest union, whose leaders have often complained they were not allowed to participate in the crafting of the country's chief education law, approved a plan that calls on NEA members to lobby Congress for reforms to bring the law more in line with the views of the 2.8 million-member union. The changes proposed include establishing an accountability system that no longer relies only on testing as the measure of success or failure. Instead, the union recommends designing a system based on multiple benchmarks, including teacher-designed classroom assessments, student portfolios, graduation/dropout statistics, and college-enrollment rates, among other measures. The plan also calls for smaller class sizes, more funding for schools, and revisions to the definition of “highly qualified” teacher. The plan passed with just three delegates speaking publicly against it, reports Vaishali Honawar, because they argued that the union should take even more extreme measures and try to repeal the NCLB law in its entirety. At the Representative Assembly, the union also released a survey of 1,000 NEA members that showed nearly 70 percent dislike the No Child Left Behind Act and believe it has failed to improve education. Only 29 percent of those surveyed said they approve of the law.