These reforms express my deep belief in our public schools

and their mission to build the mind and character of every child,

from every background, in every part of America.


                                                                                         President George W. Bush

                                                                                                   January 2001


Three days after taking office in January 2001 as the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush announced No Child Left Behind, his framework for bipartisan education reform that he described as “the cornerstone of my Administration.”  President Bush emphasized his deep belief in our public schools, but an even greater concern that “too many of our neediest children are being left behind,” despite the nearly $200 billion in Federal spending since the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  The President called for bipartisan solutions based on accountability, choice, and flexibility in Federal education programs.


Less than a year later, despite the unprecedented challenges of engineering an economic recovery while leading the Nation in the war on terrorism following the events of September 11, President Bush secured passage of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB Act).  The new law reflects a remarkable consensus—first articulated in the President’s No Child Left Behind framework—on how to improve the performance of America’s elementary and secondary schools while at the same time ensuring that no child is trapped in a failing school. 


The NCLB Act, which reauthorizes the ESEA, incorporates the principles and strategies proposed by President Bush.  These include increased accountability for States, school districts, and schools; greater choice for parents and students, particularly those attending low-performing schools; more flexibility for States and local educational agencies (LEAs) in the use of Federal education dollars; and a stronger emphasis on reading, especially for our youngest children.


Increased Accountability


The NCLB Act will strengthen Title I accountability by requiring States to implement statewide accountability systems covering all public schools and students.  These systems must be based on challenging State standards in reading and mathematics, annual testing for all students in grades 3-8, and annual statewide progress objectives ensuring that all groups of students reach proficiency within 12 years.  Assessment results and State progress objectives must be broken out by poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, and limited English proficiency to ensure that no group is left behind.  School districts and schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward statewide proficiency goals will, over time, be subject to improvement, corrective action, and restructuring measures aimed at getting them back on course to meet State standards.  Schools that meet or exceed AYP objectives or close achievement gaps will be eligible for State Academic Achievement Awards.


More Choices for Parents and Students


The NCLB Act significantly increases the choices available to the parents of students attending Title I schools that fail to meet State standards, including immediate relief—beginning with the 2002-03 school year—for students in schools that were previously identified for improvement or corrective action under the 1994 ESEA reauthorization.


LEAs must give students attending schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring the opportunity to attend a better public school, which may include a public charter school, within the school district.  The district must provide transportation to the new school, and must use at least 5 percent of its Title I funds for this purpose, if needed.


For students attending persistently failing schools (those that have failed to meet State standards for at least 3 of the 4 preceding years), LEAs must permit low-income students to use Title I funds to obtain supplemental educational services from the public- or private-sector provider selected by the students and their parents.  Providers must meet State standards and offer services tailored to help participating students meet challenging State academic standards.


To help ensure that LEAs offer meaningful choices, the new law requires school districts to spend up to 20 percent of their Title I allocations to provide school choice and supplemental educational services to eligible students.


In addition to helping ensure that no child loses the opportunity for a quality education because he or she is trapped in a failing school, the choice and supplemental service requirements provide a substantial incentive for low-performing schools to improve.  Schools that want to avoid losing students—along with the portion of their annual budgets typically associated with those students—will have to improve or, if they fail to make AYP for 5 years, run the risk of reconstitution under a restructuring plan.


Greater Flexibility for States, School Districts, and Schools


One important goal of No Child Left Behind was to breathe new life into the “flexibility for accountability” bargain with States first struck by President George H.W. Bush during his historic 1989 education summit with the Nation’s Governors at Charlottesville, Virginia.  Prior flexibility efforts have focused on the waiver of program requirements; the NCLB Act moves beyond this limited approach to give States and school districts unprecedented flexibility in the use of Federal education funds in exchange for strong accountability for results.


New flexibility provisions in the NCLB Act include authority for States and LEAs to transfer up to 50 percent of the funding they receive under 4 major State grant programs to any one of the programs, or to Title I.  The covered programs include Teacher Quality State Grants, Educational Technology, Innovative Programs, and Safe and Drug-Free Schools.


The new law also includes a competitive State Flexibility Demonstration Program that permits up to 7 States to consolidate the State share of nearly all Federal State grant programs—including Title I, Part A Grants to Local Educational Agencies—while providing additional flexibility in their use of Title V Innovation funds.  Participating States must enter into 5-year performance agreements with the Secretary covering the use of the consolidated funds, which may be used for any educational purpose authorized under the ESEA.  As part of their plans, States also must enter into up to 10 local performance agreements with LEAs, which will enjoy the same level of flexibility granted under the separate Local Flexibility Demonstration Program.


The new competitive Local Flexibility Demonstration Program would allow up to 80 LEAs, in addition to the 70 LEAs under the State Flexibility Demonstration Program, to consolidate funds received under Teacher Quality State Grants, Educational Technology State Grants, Innovative Programs, and Safe and Drug-Free Schools programs.  Participating LEAs would enter into performance agreements with the Secretary of Education, and would be able to use the consolidated funds for any ESEA-authorized purpose.


Putting Reading First


No Child Left Behind stated President Bush’s unequivocal commitment to ensuring that every child can read by the end of third grade.  To accomplish this goal, the new Reading First initiative would significantly increase the Federal investment in scientifically based reading instruction programs in the early grades.  One major benefit of this approach would be reduced identification of children for special education services due to a lack of appropriate reading instruction in their early years.


The NCLB Act fully implements the President’s Reading First initiative.  The new Reading First State Grant program will make 6-year grants to States, which will make competitive subgrants to local communities.  Local recipients will administer screening and diagnostic assessments to determine which students in grades K-3 are at risk of reading failure, and provide professional development for K-3 teachers in the essential components of reading instruction.


The new Early Reading First program will make competitive 6-year awards to LEAs to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of preschool-age children, particularly those from low-income families.  Recipients will use instructional strategies and professional development drawn from scientifically based reading research to help young children to attain the fundamental knowledge and skills they will need for optimal reading development in kindergarten and beyond.


Other Major Program Changes


The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 also put the principles of accountability, choice, and flexibility to work in its reauthorization of other major ESEA programs.  For example, the new law combines the Eisenhower Professional Development and Class Size Reduction programs into a new Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program that focuses on using practices grounded in scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers.  The new program gives States and LEAs flexibility to select the strategies that best meet their particular needs for improved teaching that will help them raise student achievement in the core academic subjects.  In return for this flexibility, LEAs are required to demonstrate annual progress in ensuring that all teachers teaching in core academic subjects within the State are highly qualified.


The NCLB Act also simplified Federal support for English language instruction by combining categorical bilingual and immigrant education grants that benefited a small percentage of limited English proficient students in relatively few schools into a State formula program. The new formula program will facilitate the comprehensive planning by States and school districts needed to ensure implementation of programs that benefit all limited English proficient students by helping them learn English and meet the same high academic standards as other students.


Other changes will support State and local efforts to keep our schools safe and drug-free, while at the same time ensuring that students—particularly those who have been victims of violent crimes on school grounds—are not trapped in persistently dangerous schools.  As proposed in No Child Left Behind, States must allow students who attend a persistently dangerous school, or who are victims of violent crime at school, to transfer to a safe school.  States also must report school safety statistics to the public on a school-by-school basis, and LEAs must use Federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities funding to implement drug and violence prevention programs of demonstrated effectiveness.


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                            All Rights Reserved
                           Associated Press Online

          These materials may not be republished without the express
                   written consent of The Associated Press

                         November 23, 2005 Wednesday


LENGTH: 413 words

HEADLINE: Judge Tosses Out NCLB Education Lawsuit

BYLINE: TONI LOCY; Associated Press Writer



A judge threw out a lawsuit Wednesday that sought to block the No Child Left Behind law, President Bush's signature education policy. The National Education Association said it would appeal.

The NEA and school districts in three states had argued that schools should not have to comply with requirements that were not paid for by the federal government.

Chief U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman, based in eastern Michigan, said, "Congress has appropriated significant funding" and has the power to require states to set educational standards in exchange for federal money.

The NEA, a union of 2.7 million members and often a political adversary of the administration, had filed the suit along with districts in Michigan, Vermont and Bush's home state of Texas, plus 10 NEA chapters in those states and Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah.

The school districts had argued that the law is costing them more than they are receiving in federal funding.

The law requires states to revise academic standards and develop tests to measure students' progress annually. If students fail to make progress, the law requires states to take action against school districts.

Reg Weaver, president of the NEA, said his group would appeal.

"Parents in communities where school districts are financially strained were promised that this law would close the achievement gaps," he said. "Instead, their tax dollars are being used to cover unpaid bills sent from Washington for costly regulations that do not help improve education."

The lawsuit alleged that there was a gap between federal funding and the cost of complying with the law. Illinois, for example, will spend $15.4 million annually to meet the law's requirements on curriculum and testing but will
receive $13 million a year, the lawsuit said.

Friedman said that the law "cannot reasonably be interpreted to prohibit Congress itself from offering federal funds on the condition that states and school districts comply with the many statutory requirements, such as devising and administering tests, improving test scores and training teachers."

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said, "This is a victory for children and parents all across the country. Chief Judge Friedman's decision validates our partnership with states to close the achievement gap, hold schools accountable and to ensure all students are reading and doing math at grade-level by 2014."

                      Copyright 2005 The Washington Post
                             The Washington Post

                           November 11, 2005 Friday
                                Final Edition

SECTION: Editorial; A25

LENGTH: 813 words

HEADLINE: In Utah, No Right Left Behind

BYLINE: George F. Will



 If you seek a window into conservatism's current consternations, look into Utah. The nation's reddest state  --  last year, and in six of the past  eight presidential elections, Utah was the most Republican state  --  is rebelling
against President Bush's No Child Left Behind law.

 Only three states have  not challenged in some way NCLB's extension of federal supervision over K-through-12 education, but no state has done so with as much brio as Utah, which is insurrectionary even though last year 87 percent of its schools fulfilled NCLB's requirement of demonstrating "adequate yearly progress." Utah, you see, is unique.

 Gov. Jon Huntsman, 45, is a seventh-generation Utahan.  A former diplomat, he believes what the proverb asserts, that "a soft answer turneth away wrath." He says, tactfully, that perhaps Margaret Spellings, the U.S. secretary of education, "has not had time to read our legislation."

 Utah's differences with Washington do not constitute a  casus belli  but Huntsman sounds somewhat like a South Carolinian, circa 1861, when he says the issue is "sovereignty." Furthermore, Huntsman says that Washington is
insensitive to Utah's "pioneer ethos" and that "we are always taken advantage of because we are a consistently and reliably Republican state."

 The Bush administration calls the 1,100-page  No Child law "the most important federal education reform in history." It is a federal attempt at large-scale behavior modification, using sunlight to cause embarrassment and
embarrassment to prompt reforms. Standardized tests are supposed to produce data that, when "disaggregated," will reveal the different attainments of particular schools and different cohorts of pupils. Unsatisfactory results will, in theory, shame communities into insisting on improvements.

 Many Utahans, however, take umbrage at the idea that it is the business of Washington  --  a city that they think frequently embarrasses Americans  --  to make them embarrassed about themselves. Their reasons suggest why reforms devised for a continental nation often collide with the nation's durable, and valuable, regional differences.

 Not all Utahans are Mormons. Almost 11 percent are Hispanic, heading for 20 percent by 2020, and there is a significant population of Pacific islanders. But the state's singular tone is set by the Mormons.

 An earnest lot, they are never more so than in their respect for the injunction to be fruitful and multiply. They have large families  --  the youngest of the governor's six children is a 6-year-old  whom the Huntsmans adopted four months after she was abandoned in a vegetable market in China. Utahans' fecundity is the primary reason why theirs is the youngest state: Its median age of 28 is an astonishing eight years below the nation's median.

 And among the 50 states, Utah has the second-highest proportion of students in kindergarten through 12th grades in public schools and more home-schooled children than children in private schools. This is largely because of the state's cultural homogeneity. Utah, writes Michael Barone in "The Almanac of American
Politics," "is the only state that largely continues to live by the teachings of a church." Utahans believe that they have high community standards and that their public schools and universities  --  which receive 100 percent of the
state's personal and corporate income tax revenue  --  adhere to them. They may be wrong, but they rightly think that, under federalism, it is their traditional right to be wrong.

 Washington, which often is a busybody, is not just being that with NCLB. Chester Finn, one of  the country's foremost experts on school reforms, notes that NCLB came from the seventh reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. According to Finn, NCLB says, in effect, this: "If you keep doing what you have been doing, you won't get any better." The poor, says Finn, are still not learning as they should, gaps between the cognitive attainments of many traditionally disadvantaged groups are as wide as ever, and a definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to be different.

 Utah takes its stand against federal usurpation by  invoking the 1979 federal law that states: "[T]he establishment of the Department of Education shall not increase the authority of the federal government over education or
diminish the responsibility for education which is reserved to the states."

 But government metastasizes. A new Education Department commission whose focus is higher education is chaired by Charles Miller, a Texan who helped develop that state's accountability program that was a precursor of NCLB. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Miller "insists he is not out to regulate colleges, but only to hold them accountable to taxpayers." Got it?