Friday, January 13, 2006

NEA on NCLB: Not much to celebrate

Not Much To Celebrate on Fourth Anniversary of 'No Child Left Behind'
NEA President Reg Weaver Evaluates Bush Administration's Education Policy
WASHINGTON -- National Education Association (NEA) President Reg Weaver issued the following statement on the fourth anniversary of the so-called No Child Left Behind's adoption:

"Four years of President Bush's signature education policy is sufficient to weigh facts, examine data and understand this so-called 'No Child Left Behind' (NCLB) Act through the experiences of millions of education professionals across America. If we distill these into one observation, it is that the anniversary marks four years of winning rhetoric and failing substance. From its inception, NCLB has been overemphasized, under funded and sugarcoated at the expense of public school children.

"New data illustrates our conclusion. It shows that more schools failed to achieve 'adequate yearly progress' (AYP) under NCLB in 2005-06 than ever before. Schools that earned high ranks, honors and distinctions for achievement and improvement under their own states' models of standards and accountability failed under the Administration's federal mandate, which leaves those schools, their students, their parents and instructors discouraged, not empowered. In remarks earlier this week in Maryland, President Bush finally agreed with NEA in declaring that 'one size doesn't fit all.'

"If Congress previously has accepted none of the blame for this policy of artificial inadequacy, it cannot avoid it now. In the final hours before its December recess, Congress adopted cuts of more than $1 billion to NCLB, sentencing even more of America's schools to failure on the fast track in 2005-06. The choice represented the most blatant disregard for the futures of the nation's children to date by our leaders.

"While many members of Congress have praised the so-called No Child Left Behind Act in their stump speeches, they clearly have little regard for it in this budget. When it came time to match money with rhetoric, Congress voted to cut funding in support of NCLB by $1 billion, which brings funding below the level provided THREE years ago.

"NEA has sought to fix and fund the policy, issuing recommendations to aid the Administration in eliminating statutory flaws and establishing legislative funding priorities, all for the sake of America's children for four years now. Our data-driven recommendations remain on the table while public school children across the nation fall farther behind. NEA has joined with 66 other national organizations in calling for 14 specific improvements to the law. We strongly encourage others to look at the facts and tell Congress that our children need more than rhetoric."

Data illustrating state-by-state federal funding losses due to recent budget cuts, AYP failures under NCLB, and the joint statement from the 67 groups may be found at www.nea.org.

Jan. 11, 2006

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