Archive for Saturday, May 17, 2003

Teacher challenges federal law for schools

May 17, 2003

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— The federal No Child Left Behind Act is unconstitutional because it places unattainable demands on teachers, a lawsuit filed by a middle school teacher claims.

Brian K. Kegerreis of Roeland Park, a middle school special education teacher, filed his lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday.

Dan Langan, a spokesman for the Education Department, said Kegerreis' lawsuit was the first to challenge the act on constitutional grounds.

The law, enacted in 2002, requires that all public school students be academically proficient by 2014 and specifies penalties for schools that don't measure up. That could ultimately cost him his position, Kegerreis said.

"My job is on the line," Kegerreis said. "But this is not just about a job, it is about my dream."

Langan said the lawsuit was under review by the department's attorneys, but discounted Kegerreis' contention that the goals of the act were unattainable.

"The No Child Left Behind Act builds upon what states were already doing," Langan said. "It's building on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that's been in place since 1965 -- but for the first time the law is demanding accountability from the states."

Under the law, all students must demonstrate proficiency, as defined by their state, by 2014. Failure to make adequate yearly progress in test scores will land schools on a needs-improvement list.

Critics have warned that academically successful schools could find themselves on the needs-improvement list if certain subgroups of students were not making adequate progress.

The subgroups include students who are poor, who are minorities, who have limited English skills or who are in special education.

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