Smoke But No Fire (Washington DC)

You’d think that all 50 states had passed legislation against NCLB from reading many of the headlines (and some of the stories) about this week’s NCSL report calling for changes in NCLB.

But in reality it’s just another report (albeit a good one) finding fault with the law and calling for Congress or the USDE to make 43 specific changes to the law (one for every state that paid its dues?).

As far as I can tell, it doesn’t even call on states to take any specific action, which few of them are even considering doing. The actual number of legislatures working on NCLB rollback measures is a measly nine. It was something like 12 last year.

Some of the coverage is better than others:

In the Washington Post (State Officials Seek Changes In 'No Child'), the situation is fairly described as “an escalation in the war of words surrounding the law.”

The Associated Press goes a little over the top (Lawmakers blast Bush education initiative), calling the report “a bipartisan statement from all 50 legislatures.”

The New York Times (Report Faults Bush Initiative on Education) clearly identifies the NCSL release as a report (written by 16 legislators and six staff members) and plays down the possibility of a constitutional challenge.

The piece in USA Today (States want more control over No Child Left Behind) highlights the main thrust of the NCSL report, which is that states should be in charge of accountability among other things, not the USDE, and includes a harsh rebuttal from John Boehner, chair of the House education committee, who accuses state lawmakers and others of wanting federal funding without any accountability.

Nobody includes the sharpest rebuttal of all, courtesy of the Education Trust’s Ross Weiner, who calls out the NCSL for defending “state systems that for too long have neglected the needs of students” and “shamelessly” arguing that states were doing a fine job educating children before NCLB was enacted. “Legislators need to turn their time, energy and resources to help schools do this important work, rather than try to dismantle the best tool the nation has to help these students,” says Weiner. “State systems of public education need to change much more than NCLB needs to change.”

For a more balanced take on what should – and can – be done about NCLB between now and 2007, there are a couple of pieces in the new Education Next worth looking at:

Do We Need to Repair the Monument? Education Next
NCLB: A Mid-course Correction Needed Education Next

Speaking of national groups weighing in on NCLB, the PTA survey results came out this week:

PTA Members Are Split on NCLB’s Effectiveness Education Week
National PTA Survey Results Reveal Parents Views on No Child Left ... U.S. Newswire

Elsewhere in Washington, more fluffy coverage of Spellings:

Profile: Education Secretary Margaret Spellings NPR (audio)

On the other hand, she is saying some interesting things about bringing accountability to higher education:

Officials Urge Accountability In Universities Daily Californian
Spellings Backs Accountability in Higher Education Education Week


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