The time is now to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
By Jim Rice
FBISD Board of Trustees President
As President of the Fort Bend Independent School District Board of Trustees, I believe it is time for our entire community to request that the Houston area congressional delegation and our Texas U.S. Senators ensure the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), is reauthorized in 2014.
We are approaching the twelve-year mark since NCLB became the federal education law of the land and nearly everyone recognizes the law is in need of improvement. Most school boards across Texas support the intent and stated objectives of the NCLB Act, but we also strongly support amendments to NCLB and revisions to U.S. Department of Education regulations to address barriers preventing our school districts from effectively implementing the spirit of NCLB.
Texas school board members believe that NCLB’s “one size fits all” approach does not allow for a true picture of student and school performance. Under current NCLB requirements 100 % of the students in each sub-population group must pass in every measured category – something that is statistically impossible to achieve. This requirement has come about due to Congress’ allowing this bill to languish effectively leaving NCLB on auto-pilot.
Because Congress has consistently failed for the past six years to reauthorize NCLB, because of the current 100% passing threshold, which no school in America can meet, the Obama Administration instructed the U.S. Department of Education to allow states to apply for waivers for specific provisions of NCLB as a measure of relief. However these waivers come with strings attached and though Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Michael Williams was successful in obtaining a modified waiver, the U.S. Department of Education continues to overreach its constitutional authority in this and many other ways.
I ask those Americans who believe that parents, teachers, administrators and local school boards – those closest to the student, are best prepared to raise and educate our children, to join the chorus of local school board members across the country in recommending amendments to NCLB that infuse common sense flexibility and increased deference to the judgment of local school boards and educators. School districts need an accountability system that is aligned with state provisions already in place to ensure high-quality, valid and reliable assessments for all students, including English Language learners and students with disabilities.
Most importantly, Congress must fund the law adequately so that our schools have the resources necessary for us to help students reach NCLB’s zenith performance targets.
School board members, administrators, parents, teachers and students have provided and will continue to provide Congress with a blueprint of what is needed in order to successfully accomplish the goals of NCLB. It is now up to Congress to amend the provisions of NCLB that are making it more difficult for schools to ensure that our students are receiving the solid education foundation they need and deserve. Failing to act, allowing reauthorization to languish and the law to continue in its current form indefinitely will allow and invite more federal intrusion and overreach by the U.S. Department of Education and will continue to be a disservice to our schools, students and communities.
Join me in urging Congress to act now!
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