Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Moore: No NCLB renewal without promised funding

December 21, 2006

According to federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation, every subcategory of students must have a certain percentage meet the standard. If one subcategory doesn't make it, the entire school building and the entire district don't make AYP.

For example, Monticello Trails Middle School in west Shawnee had one subcategory of students with disabilities that didn't make the standard in reading. As a result, the building didn't make AYP this year. In De Soto USD 232 only one other category -- low income students at Starside Elementary School -- did not make AYP.

Although Monticello Trails didn't make AYP, they did attain the standard of excellence in reading -- meaning that a high number of students tested well above the required standards.

Congress passed No Child Left Behind, said to be the centerpiece of the Bush administration's domestic policy, in 2001. When schools don't make the AYP standard after a certain number of years, specific sanctions can be required. For example, some schools would have to pay for transportation for a student to attend a different building under one of the sanctions.

Rep. Dennis Moore said he voted for the law five years ago after listening to concerns from several superintendents.

The law is up for renewal again this year when Congress reconvenes.

Moore said he would only support a law with changes. The Lenexa Democrat said there were positives to No Child Left Behind, such as providing equal education opportunities and raising the achievement standards.

"The purpose is good," he said. "I don't know of a teacher who wants to leave any child behind, but the law has some shortfalls."

Funding to provide districts that don't make AYP was one of the shortfalls, Moore said. The law was originally intended to provide extra funds to districts who need extra help, but that hasn't happened. Moore said a similar concern was raised several years before this law when the Individuals with Disabilities Act was not fully funded.

"I never expected when I voted for NCLB that Congress and the president would do the same thing again, and they have," he said.

Funding wasn't his only concern, however. Moore agreed the requirement for English as Second Language children to meet AYP after only one year was inappropriate. He said it was unrealistic for children with learning disabilities to be expected to meet the same standards as children without those disabilities. NCLB currently requires schools to raise the percentage meeting the AYP standard each year, with every single subgroup meeting standard by the year 2014.

Moore said although he didn't serve on education committees that will likely ask for a renewal of the NCLB law, he supported the "Keeping Promises to America's Children" or other bills that would fully fund NCLB.

Education committees likely to introduce legislation for NCLB renewal include the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the U.S. House of Representatives, online at edworkforce.house.gov and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, online at help.senate.gov.

"I do want to be a part of a solution," he said. "It should not be about Republicans and Democrats. This is about taking care of our children and providing them with an opportunity for a quality public education. I think that's what we owe kids in this country."

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