To the editor:
As "No Child Left Behind" reports roll out, reactions will vary. Mr. Rich Minder, USD 497 board member, noted: "Can we calculate how long it will take for this whole policy framework to collapse?" As more and more schools are identified and, in coming years, recommended for sanctions and possible restructuring, the pressures will increase exponentially.
Because NCLB enjoyed bipartisan support, and few in the nation's capital wish to revisit the act before they have to, there will be little incentive to change. There is, however, one thing to watch -- private school vouchers. If this gains momentum and legislation allows transfers to private schools with taxpayer money following the child, the cynics who suggest the real intent of NCLB is to hurt, not help, public schools may be correct.
Kansas is doing quite well compared to other states. Nearly 90 percent of Florida's schools are "at-risk" to cite just one example. We are leaving between 20 percent and 30 percent of Kansas children "behind." This is not acceptable, regardless of state and federal law. There is no use complaining, since the intent of the act is noble. In coming years, we shall see if the U.S. Department of Education is serious about helping, or just about embarrassing schools.
All children must learn the basics; this is not a new challenge. The current climate is spurring action and a long overdue academic focus. Without basic skills, millions of children -- and perhaps our country as we know it -- face a difficult and uncertain future.
Paul R. Getto,