Monday, February 01, 2010

Obam proposals on NCLB emerge

February 1, 2010

Obama to Seek Sweeping Change in ‘No Child’ Law

The Obama administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of President Bush’s signature education law, No Child Left Behind, and will call for broad changes in how schools are judged to be succeeding or failing, as well as for the elimination of the law’s 2014 deadline for bringing every American child to academic proficiency.
Educators who have been briefed by administration officials said the proposals for changes in the main law governing the federal role in public schools would eliminate or rework many of the provisions that teachers’ unions, associations of principals, school boards and other groups have found most objectionable.
Yet the administration is not planning to abandon the law’s commitments to closing the achievement gap between minority and white students and to encouraging teacher quality.
Significantly, said those who have been briefed, the White House wants to change federal financing formulas so that a portion of the money is awarded based on academic progress, rather than by formulas that apportion money to districts according to their numbers of students, especially poor students. The well-worn formulas for distributing tens of billions of dollars in federal aid have, for decades, been a mainstay of the annual budgeting process in the nation’s 14,000 school districts.

Peter Cunningham, a Department of Education spokesman, acknowledged that the administration was planning to ask Congress for broad changes to the education law, but declined to describe the changes specifically.
He said that although the administration had developed various proposals, it would solicit input from Congressional leaders of both parties in coming weeks to create legislative language that can attract bipartisan support. Some details of the president’s proposals are expected to be made public on Monday, when the president outlines his $3.8 trillion budget for the 2011 fiscal year.
The changes would have to be approved by Congress, which has been at a stalemate for years over how to change the policy.
Currently the education law requires the nation’s 98,000 public schools to make “adequate yearly progress” as measured by student test scores. Schools that miss their targets in reading and math must offer students the opportunity to transfer to other schools and free after-school tutoring. Schools that repeatedly miss targets face harsher sanctions, which can include staff dismissals and closings. All students are required to be proficient by 2014.
Educators have complained loudly in the eight years since the law was signed that it was branding tens of thousands of schools as failing but not forcing them to change.

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