Thomas J. Mertz
FEINGOLD QUESTIONS ADMINISTRATION’S CONTINUED SUPPORT OF NCLB
Administration’s Top-Down Approach to Education Contradicted by Education Secretary’s Recent Op-Ed
June 22, 2007
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is leading a group of Senators in calling into question the Administration’s continued support of the No Child Left Behind law following a recently published op-ed by the Secretary of Education that expressed support for state and local control of education policy. In a letter to the Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, the Senators cited her June 9th Washington Post op-ed, where she said that a move toward a national test would be “unprecedented and unwise” because states and localities have primarily held the leadership role in public education. Feingold and the other Senators questioned why the Department of Education does not extend this same rationale to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and they urged the Administration to work with Congress to reform key provisions of NCLB during the congressional reauthorization process. The letter was cosigned by Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
“NCLB has hamstrung state and local decision-making by establishing a federal accountability system that measures and punishes our students and our schools based on, among other things, annual high-stakes standardized testing,” Feingold said. “This is the wrong approach, and the groundswell of opposition to the NCLB – from parents, educators, and administrators alike – shows just how flawed it is.”
The Administration’s proposal for NCLB reauthorization, released earlier this year, did not embrace enough of the themes Secretary Spellings expressed in her recent op-ed. Under the Department’s recommendations, states would still be required to annually assess students and states and districts would still be required to implement sanctions that may not be working in local schools and districts, including transfer options and supplemental educational services. Feingold opposed NCLB in 2001because he did not believe a federal policy centered on standardized tests was the best approach for Wisconsin students, teachers, and school districts.
“As Secretary Spellings points out, states and local districts are the ones developing the curriculum used in our nation’s schools and they’re the ones paying most of the costs of education,” Feingold said. “I hope Secretary Spellings’ recent op-ed signals a shift away from the Administration’s top-down approach to education and back toward empowering those who are working in the classrooms every day.”
A copy of the letter is available here: http://feingold.senate.gov/pdf/ltr_spellings_062207.pdf