Maybe the world is coming to an end -- I have something good to say about the radical Republicans in Congress. Let's just hope that Colorado's delegation in Washington, Republicans and Democrats, get behind this new move to give our state the right to opt out of the pit of high stakes 'education' testing known here as CSAP, the Colorado Student Assessment Program.
The news item linked to first here is a report that Republicans in Congress are leading the effort to allow states to opt out of the 'No Child Left Behind' (NCLB) federal testing mandates. CSAP is Colorado's version of the NCLB centralized, top-down, one-size-fits-all testing that has done nothing to improve the quality of education here or across the nation.
Note also in the second news report I have linked to -- Democrats in the Minnesota state legislature are the prime movers there to reject NCLB's federal testing mandate. Where are the Colorado legislators? The Colorado teacher's union?
As far as I am concerned, whether it comes from Republicans or Democrats, any move to end this onerous testing is a move in a better direction.
As more details of the Hoekstra bill become available, I'll post them here. In the meantime, send a brief email to our Colorado Senators and Representatives urging them to support this effort.
More than 50 GOP members of the House and Senate -- including the House's second-ranking Republican -- will introduce legislation today that could severely undercut President Bush's signature domestic achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act, by allowing states to opt out of its testing mandates.
For a White House fighting off attacks on its war policy and dealing with a burgeoning scandal at the Justice Department, the GOP dissidents' move is a fresh blow on a new front. Among the co-sponsors of the legislation are House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key supporter of the measure in 2001, and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Bush's most reliable defender in the Senate. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House GOP's chief deputy whip and a supporter in 2001, has also signed on.
Burson Snyder, a spokesman for Blunt, said that after several meetings with school administrators and teachers in southwest Missouri, the House Republican leader turned against the measure he helped pass. Blunt was convinced that the burdens and red tape of the No Child Left Behind Act are unacceptably onerous, Snyder said. ...
... Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), author of the new House bill, said the number of Republicans already backing the new measure exceeds the 41 House Republicans and Democrats who voted against the original legislation in 2001. Of the House bill's co-sponsors, at least eight voted for the president's plan six years ago. ...
... Under Hoekstra's bill, any state could essentially opt out of No Child Left Behind after one of two actions. A state could hold a referendum, or two of three elected entities -- the governor, the legislature and the state's highest elected education official -- could decide that the state would no longer abide by the strict rules on testing and the curriculum.
The Senate bill is slightly less permissive, but it would allow a state to negotiate a "charter" with the federal government to get away from the law's mandates.
In both cases, the states that opt out would still be eligible for federal funding, but those states could exempt any education program but special education from No Child Left Behind strictures. ...
Just as they promised, Minnesota legislators are working to drop the No Child Left Behind Act and its limits on Minnesota education.
Winona Democrats Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes and Rep. Gene Pelowski this week joined dozens of other state lawmakers who want to opt out of the federal mandate that aims to make all students proficient in reading and math by 2014.
While some believe the act has helped students make academic progress, others say the law narrows class options and encourages teachers to tailor their lessons to the test.
A bill introduced in the Legislature on Monday would direct Minnesota to stop implementing the act in June, though local legislators are doubtful the bill will pass.
Opting out could mean the loss of federal funds, but Pelowski said a legislative auditor’s report actually found that schools will — in the long-term — save money.
Fifteen states, including Minnesota, North Dakota and Illinois, have considered legislation to opt out.
But it’s not just money that matters. No Child Left Behind also lowers Minnesota education standards to other states’ standards, Pelowski said. The public high school teacher said the state is in the “ludicrous position” of taking away teaching time to make more time for tests — last year, Winona Middle School students took 18 tests in one month.
“We’re not helping students,” he said. “We’re only testing them.”
Test scores are not necessarily a measure of overall success. Under the law, a school can be deemed failing if even one subgroup — such as special education students — fails. The problem is that some of these students are, by definition, not reading or doing math at grade level. ...