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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

As NCLB discussion heats up poll shows Americans increasingly concerned

House education leaders yesterday released a draft of a plan to reauthorize N0 Child Left Behind and are actively seeking input on the draft.

According to a letter to education stakeholders from House Education and Labor Committee Chairmen Rep. George Miller (D-California), Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-Michigan), Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-California) and Rep. Michael Castle (R-Delaware) , "This draft is a work in progress, subject to change over the coming weeks as the Committee moves a bill through the legislative process. [snip] If you would like to offer comments, please send them to and include your name and/or organization, the page and line numbers of suggested changes to legislative language by September 5, 2007."

A new poll out this week from Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup shows that the more Americans know about NCLB the less they like about the sweeping law. Read through the data and the findings because there's ample fodder for discussion here. Parents and public school advocates need to make their voices heard on this issue. Poll results shows that Americans are resisting the idea that passage of one test on one day is the only measure of student progress and that despite its good intentions, NCLB promotes teaching to the test at the expense of other critical skills.

Here's an interesting commentary that shows that the more people get to know their local districts, the more favorable view they have of its work and direction.

Schools Have Stepped Up

Like politics, all education is local. Despite what detractors say about "the nation's schools," the closer the public gets to its local public schools, the more it likes them, and this continuing trend reflects well on those who lead schools.

The public's satisfaction with local schools reflects the schools' fulfillment of the diverse mandate given to them. While NCLB counts only that which can be counted, two-thirds of the public calls on its schools to see to its children's social and emotional needs in addition to their academic needs, and, if poll numbers are any indication, the schools have stepped up. School leaders can be proud of what they've accomplished, but we still have work to do. Forty percent of the public remains unconvinced that students leave high school ready for college, and only about half believe that students leave high school adequately prepared to do skilled work.

But it's interesting to note that the public doesn't see a solution in NCLB. In fact, the more the public learns about the law, the less it likes it, with 43% pointing to an overemphasis on standardized testing and more than a quarter of those polled asserting the law is actually hurting our children. Further, the public continues to recognize a lack of financial support as, by far, the leading challenge facing its schools.

Policy makers have done an impressive job of ignoring the voice of educators for the past several years. Perhaps the public that puts them in office will have better luck delivering the message: reform NCLB now to emphasize testing less and promote learning more, and provide schools the flexibility and funding they need to fulfill their mission. -- Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Reston, Va. (Bold is mine.)

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