Topeka — A nationwide grassroots rebellion is rising against the federal No Child Left Behind law, said a report released Wednesday.
The Civil Society Institute, a nonpartisan agency in Newton, Mass., said states are challenging the 2001 act through lawsuits and opting out of various requirements under the law, President Bush's major education initiative.
In Kansas there is no open revolt, but there has been plenty of debate.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said the major problem with the law was that it forced states to increase student testing and reach certain achievement levels, but failed to provide the necessary funds.
"It has made it more difficult in some instances to do our best job in Kansas," Sebelius said.
Sebelius and several other governors have voiced their concerns to the federal government, but so far nothing has happened.
"Congress continues to impose mandates on states and not the resources to fulfill those mandates," she said.
No Child Left Behind requires that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014 and penalizes schools for not making adequate yearly progress.
But while some Kansas officials have criticized the legislation, Lawrence school Supt. Randy Weseman says he is indifferent to the controversy because regardless of the law, the Lawrence district will try to make sure every student becomes proficient or better.
"In my 30 years in education, I've never had a parent say to me, 'Please quit on my child,'" he said.
He said the requirement of 100 percent proficiency may be unrealistic, but it shouldn't be abandoned. "It's all about expectations. We are going to achieve what we expect," he said.
State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, however, has criticized the law. He served on a national task force that held hearings across the country over an eight-month period last year.
The task force concluded that there was widespread discontent.
Witnesses steadily complained about unrealistic requirements handed down from on-high, a lack of funding and general inflexibility of the law, Vratil said.
"No Child Left Behind is tailored as a one-size-fits-all law but we do not have a one-size-fits-all education system," Vratil said.
He predicted that as the consequences of No Child Left Behind become more evident, states will pressure Congress to make changes substantial changes to the law.