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  • Better Alternatives to No Child Left Behind

    The Obama Administration is pushing hard for a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) before the start of the 2011–2012 school year. Education Week reports that on Tuesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told an audience that NCLB reauthorization “can’t be done on Washington time. It needs to happen on real people’s time.”

    But the push is as foolhardy as it is ambitious.

    In a statement Tuesday, Representative John Kline (R–MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, expressed concern about Duncan’s rush to reauthorize the largest federal education law:

    Our education system is in critical need of improvement, but we have all seen what can result when Congress hastily crafts sweeping legislation to meet an arbitrary deadline.

    Kline is right. Let’s remember what happened last time Congress quickly crafted “sweeping legislation.” We ended up with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) telling the American people Congress would have to pass the health care bill before we could read the language. We ended up with an unprecedented overreach into the lives of the American people by the federal government. We ended up with Obamacare.

    But when it comes to education, conservatives in Congress are pushing back. Kline says he won’t be granting the Obama Administration a reauthorization of the failed NCLB. Instead he’s making a counter-offer to President Obama and Secretary Duncan: Put power back in the hands of state and local leaders. Meanwhile, other conservatives in Congress are providing an opportunity for states to put the 10th Amendment into practice and opt out of the many federal programs under NCLB.

    Conservatives in Congress are refusing to go along with reauthorization of NCLB (the ninth reauthorization of the 1965 law that forms the cornerstone of the federal role in education). Instead, they propose the following:

    1. Elimination of ineffective and duplicative programs. In a bold first step, Representative Duncan Hunter (R–CA), chairman of the Education and the Workforce’s K-12 education subcommittee, has introduced a measure to eliminate 43 out of 80 ineffective and duplicative programs under NCLB. The proposal, which made it out committee on May 25, would eliminate such programs as Even Start Family Literacy Programs; Striving Readers; Smaller Learning Communities; and the Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Whaling Partners Program in an effort to streamline federal bureaucracy and get Washington out of many of the details of local schools, where it doesn’t belong.
    2. Flexibility with federal funding. Kline said recently that “schools are enormously frustrated…that they can’t move money [between programs]. They can only spend it where the federal government says.… They need flexibility in funding. And so we are crafting legislation to provide funding flexibility.” Kline’s proposed alternative to NCLB would include allowing cross-program flexibility among many of the programs that are authorized under the law.
    3. Accountability to parents and taxpayers. Over the past half-century, states have become increasingly accountable to Washington while becoming less accountable to those people who matter most: parents and taxpayers. Part of the problem has been the proliferation of federal programs, which require state and school leaders to complete loads of paperwork to comply with program regulations. These programs and the federal funding stream have made schools and states accountable to the Washington bureaucracy, not parents and taxpayers. NCLB significantly increased this problem, and Kline has indicated that this is something he wants to change. In remarks at Heritage on May 10, Kline said that “fundamentally, we’re asking the question: ‘accountable for what, to whom?’ Maybe you don’t need to be accountable to the Secretary of Education. Maybe you ought to be accountable to the local community, to parents.”
    4. A-PLUS. The Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) proposal would allow states to opt out of the many federal programs under NCLB and spend their education dollars in ways that best meets student needs. Through the A-PLUS approach, states would have the authority to spend more of their own money on priorities that state and local leaders deem most important for improving educational excellence for students.

    These four proposals are complimentary and provide a state-driven, student-centered approach to reforming K-12 education. It represents a long-overdue effort to restore state and local control and empower those closest to the child.

    There are some 60 competitive grant programs and approximately 20 formula grant programs that fall under NCLB. In all, the Department of Education operates more than 100 competitive and formula grant programs. The complex application processes of many grant programs waste time and resources that could be better employed in the classroom. And competitions for funding for niche programs give leverage for Washington to take a top-down approach to systemic education reform that reaches into all areas of education.

    The A-PLUS proposal immediately allows states to opt out of onerous federal programs that fall under NCLB. At the same time, policymakers should clean up the underlying law to streamline bureaucracy and more effectively distribute resources.

    Washington has failed for nearly 50 years to improve academic outcomes. It’s time to hand the reins back to state and local leaders who are accountable to parents and taxpayers—not bureaucrats in Washington.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Better Alternatives to No Child Left Behind

    1. Eric, Chicago suburb says:

      Thank you, Lindsey. I hope that Mr. Kline's efforts and agenda are supported by his colleagues of both parties and both houses. I really like the A-PLUS proposal – I can think of many states that would do just fine operating under their own state-level laws about education and education spending. It seems that many in Washington don't realize that education should be about America's children and their families, and NOT about political capital!

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Though it sounds "better" it is still a federal agency with significant potential of bloat.

      The only alternative is NO Dept. of Ed. The legislation need be nothing more than an out right abolishment of the department. There are other ways to redistribute cash to poorer states without the need for inefective overpaid and overnumbered federal workers. We wast so many valuable dollars on a single federal middleman just for his compensation – not to mention what he wastes throughout his work day preserving his job.

      Just get DC out of educaton and education out of DC. Cash redistribution is not a duty spelled out in the constitution and can lead to lazyness on a states part. If they know they can get "FREE" cash for education, the state policy makers will be less inclined to focus on their respective economies,but rather start hiring grant writers to get that cash.

      This is not the path to prosperity, nor is it restoring the American Dream. Both require individual hard work, no any government handout in any way.

    3. C.L. Cooper, Sanford says:

      The word is "complEmentary", as in supplemental to each other.

      Get the fed. govt. out of education. Eight states have alreadyi handed over their math and English curricula to the feds. in exchange for 400 milliom dollars. Just wait until they get hold of the social studies programs and can then dictate the content; socialist brainwashing full-tilt. The Republicans had better put education back in the hands of the respective states while they still can. The 10th Amendment needs to be the controlling argument.

    4. Bobbie says:

      Reopen capitalism in PRIVATE daycare. Where the upbringing of your child won't be contrary to the service as the child's expectations in nclb is .by government standard and lack thereof, not parental! Take responsibility for your children, we owe it to ourselves and children.

    5. Rebecca Roggy says:

      I am writting because I have a child who has some disabilties that causes her to strugle. The school that she attends is not a title 1 school so there is not much after school help. They do have a tourting program but no transprotation except the parents. Did get her in the extended school year but they are only offering her 8 hours for the whole summer. As her mother I feel she needs more and also feel that she is just slipping through the cracks. She has the abilty to learn just can't seem to find anyone who can get across to her. I feel that SC has the lowest education rates. We need to do a complete overhaul in this area.

    6. shelley says:

      I find it ironic that conservatives are worried about NCLB- your god lil bush started it – so it must be great right? I mean the two wars he couldn't finish are great and the tax breaks pushing us into a depression those are great right? and the personal freedoms he took away -who needs those? And he found osama-oh yeah mission NOT accomplished. And the liberals use real historians for their text books not some graduate from a "play", "fake" school like Oral Roberts U. (which is kind've a pervy name for a school) Like David Barton. So I rest my case- conservatives are not real Americans- most are only one generation away from being immigrants themselves (Santorum for example) and they just piss off the real hard-working Americans who are proud of being a democracy rather than a republic. So if you don't like America head south to old Mexico- they have your dream there– corrupt govt. no education, no social services– AWESOME!! so if you are a Tea Partier turning your back on America please do us all a favor and move away–Real Americans who have ancestors dating back to the 1600s- and still support things like equality and freedom -people like me- will give you a nice going away present- a tea bag

      • Elray B says:

        All Bush did was pass a re-vamped version of the original from the 70's. Not enough research was done and the Dems loved the boost in spending and power over the states. I would have loved for another term so Bush could have finished the wars and kept us from the hell on earth we have with Obama. Progressive ill-informed sheeple like you are the problem you don't even know what our form of government is and you don't even know what life would be like in the utopia you believe "pure" democracy is. I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers were much smarter than you and your elitist liberal idols. Please learn the difference between legal and illegal immigration and don't forget to enjoy a tea bag while you are at it.

    7. Bobbie says:

      it is ironic isn't it, Shell? What's dangerous are the American minds that choose not to use their ability to rationalize with practicality and reason. What's dangerous are those minds allowing themselves to think collectively, whatever they're vulnerable to and all to excuse those unintelligent but intentional mistakes of today's government. Gee, Bush did it so lets keep dysfunctional government programs going? Little intelligence and lack of expectations when everything is excused in the name of Obama. What's dangerous is the American government forcing special interests and their costs on people of no interest to what's "special" If you are a true American, you would have high expectations in the leadership roles today. If you were a true American the last place you'd put your children is in the arms of a corrupt, undisciplined, money hungry, contradicting, hypocritical, conniving, thieving, deceptive, influential strangers called government. Look anywhere for help, but government! For government to be servicing special interests is highly unconstitutional and limits your liberties subconsciously.

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