The Norman Transcript

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June 12, 2013

Association petitions for No Child Left Behind changes

NORMAN — The National School Boards Association, a national nonprofit, is petitioning the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to change aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act as it marks up the bill this week.

A letter sent Tuesday, signed by Associate Executive Director Michael Resnick, outlined NSBA opposition to the bill’s bureaucratic intervention to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the HELP committee, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, the ranking minority member.

“NSBA is unable to support the legislation in its current form and urges that the bill be revised and brought back to committee,” the letter states. “Local educational agencies remain very concerned that this bill contains many requirements that must be redesigned or eliminated due to their negative impact on improving academic success, as well as whether they are operationally and fiscally workable.”

Expressing optimism that reauthorization of the NCLB bill will be completed during the first session of Congress, the NSBA called current provisions “educationally and operationally dysfunctional,” accusing some features of having “wrongfully worked to erode public confidence in our public schools.”

Though the letter went into great detail expressing specific concerns — such as local data collection requirement, rigid and ineffective school improvement and more relaxed performance standards for public charter schools — the overall theme was too much federal involvement.

“If the intent of this bill is to truly improve teaching and learning, local educational agencies must have maximum flexibility in order to design, develop and implement programs that best meet the unique needs of their students. Regardless of the size of local educational agencies, top-down requirements will not be effective due to the many variables within the local communities,” the letter stated.

Committee hearings began Tuesday and Harkin was quoted as calling the issue of federal control a “philosophical” one.

“Should we just say to states, ‘go it on your own? Whatever you want to do, just go it on your own?’ Or are we going to set up a partnership with the states,” Harkin said.

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