Monday, April 30, 2007

NCLB and Education; Comments?

The Citizen Patriot reports today that Congressman Walberg will not be voting to reauthorize President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education legislation when it comes up, instead favoring the "A-PLUS Act" ("Academic Partnerships Leads Us to Success Act"). The Citizen Patriot promises more in tomorrow's issue.

First, I'll take a moment to say that I hate the name "A-PLUS". Seriously, when did laws have to get cute little names just to be able to pass? Next, someone will write a bill with an acronym of "AMERICA," because no one will want to be on record voting against America! This is ridiculous.

Anyway, "A-PLUS" can be found here. It was initially sponsored by Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra, and has been cosponsored by Walberg and 54 others-- all Republicans, and 32 of them are members of the Republican Study Committee (the far-right conservatives within the Republican caucus).

"No Child Left Behind" is certainly a flawed law, but I'm afraid I don't know enough about the details yet to take a serious stance on it or the bill Walberg supports. Are there any educators out there (or others with knowledge on the issue) who could provide some more information? I'd love to hear what you all think as I begin to educate myself on education.

Comments, anyone?

By the way, in case you're wondering who your representative has been hanging out with, watch this hilarious interview Stephen Colbert did with fellow cosponsor of "A-PLUS" and fellow member of the RSC, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland.

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1. It is good to see Walberg will not be a rubber stamp for Bush and his failed NCLB policy

2. From what I know about it, which is not much, I think A-Plus has some elements that both sides could agree on and it is good to see you take an interest in education in general

3. To say Walberg has been hanging around Westmoreland because they are both in the RSC is about like saying everyone in the Democratic Party has cold hands from hanging out with William Jefferson since the RSC has over 100 members.I just don't think its something you can really hold against him
Was Hoekstra as heavily involved as Walberg in trying to get vouchers for homeschoolers?

And, why would Walberg vote for any education plan if, in his view, the department of education should be abolished and no federal dollars should be spent at all on education?

I'd be wary of anything he "supports" dealing with education. His past comments have slanted my trust in him on this issue.
While A-PLUS has a catchy name, I see little in the actual bill. I tried to read over the text of the bill but of course it is written in legal speak so I understood little of it, but after a little more research I found that the bill basically says that the state submits a “declaration of intent” to the sectary of education of how they are going to use federal funds in order to better education. The bill calls for “Transparency for results of public education,” Fiscal responsibility, Limiting administrative expenses, and here's the kicker: “EQUITABLE PARTICIPATION OF PRIVATE SCHOOLS.”

There are some interesting things in this though. It MAY give schools slightly more flexibility and have a few fewer hoops to jump through in order to meet federal standards.

The largest problem from what I can tell is the bill's ambiguity. From what I can gather is that the bill ties funding for schools to how well a school fulfills its declaration of intent, but gives no guidelines as to how this is to be determined. As it is written it appears that if at the national level they wanted to cutting funding for schools in a certain state, or even all schools they could simply cite that the state is not living up to its declaration of intent.

The bill seems to be supported by Home School groups (Walberg's children were home schooled).

There seems to be little info floating around about this bill, hm.

Now, No Child Left Behind isn't any better. It largely ties funding to test scores and creates extra hoops for schools to jump through. Not to mention that the program has been hugely underfunded.

More info:
Umm... Walberg has been saying this for month. Is this news?
3. To say Walberg has been hanging around Westmoreland because they are both in the RSC is about like saying everyone in the Democratic Party has cold hands from hanging out with William Jefferson since the RSC has over 100 members.I just don't think its something you can really hold against him

Yeah, you're right on that. To be honest, I just recognized the name and remembered the video, so I thought I'd include it.
Here's the Jackson newspaper's full story:
Tim Walberg standing up to the Bush Administration on Bush's first-term education power-grab. I talk to a lot of teachers, they all complain about NCLB, it has been horrible. Looks like he's making friends with the public education community...
Looks like he might not be a rubberstamp after all....I do beleive he his finally coming to the conclusion that if he follows through with everything Bush does and says he might burn a lot of bridges in this area. I talked to my aunt who is a 5th grade teacher at a school here in Battle Creek and she say that the NCLB act is and always has been a disater from the word GO. Timmy thinks he might persuade a few voters to see the picture he is trying to paint for the re-election in 08, but us people on this board do know him and what he truly represents. Im not fooled at what he does. Do you?

you need to catch this, the Bush administration seems none to happy with Walberg standing up to them:

the interview was with Sect'y of Education Margaret Spelling:

At a press conference announcing the A-PLUS legislation sponsored by Senators DeMint and Cornyn, Rep. Tim Walberg cited the extraordinary amount of paperwork his daughter has to do as a teacher. Are there any efforts to reduce the amount of bureaucracy?

First, I have to take issue with the thesis, which is to say that No Child Left Behind gets blamed for lots of stuff. There is one true mandate in No Child Left Behind, and it is that every kid is tested one time a year, and that we disaggregate that data. That means to say we separate is out by a student’s characteristics. So, I guess this teacher is asserting that one test a year in reading in math is an overwhelming paperwork burden? I mean, I’m just asking because what is the paperwork burden specifically that they’re talking about? I just have to know that or else I can’t solve the problem.

Testing, of course, has been part of the educational enterprise since Socrates. It is how teachers get feedback about how kids are doing. Now, some local jurisdictions -- and if I were in a local school board I’d be for this, and her local school board might have put this in place -- I’d want to know how we were doing along the way. I wouldn’t want to wait until the end of May to take that one snapshot that the federal law requires if I was going to be accountable as the campus principle or the superintendent. I’d want to know, ‘How are we doing at mid-term? How are we doing in the first quarter?’ Now, if that’s the paperwork burden, then she ought to take that up with her principal and her superintendent, but I would suggest to her if I were a manager, I’d want to know how we were doing along the way.
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