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Archive for Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sen. Roberts: ‘No Child’ law needs to be fixed

February 24, 2007

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Sen. Pat Roberts speaks during a press conference Friday at the Shawnee Mission School District offices in Overland Park. With him is Alexa Posny, director of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education.

Sen. Pat Roberts speaks during a press conference Friday at the Shawnee Mission School District offices in Overland Park. With him is Alexa Posny, director of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., referred to himself Friday as the Senator Left Behind, as he was rushed away from a meeting with Kansas school superintendents to other obligations.

Roberts said he could have spent three hours with school officials discussing their concerns with the No Child Left Behind program. The senator met with 20 school superintendents from northeast Kansas as part of a trek around the state. Roberts acknowledged that No Child Left Behind has its problems.

"We have quite a few challenges before this gets fixed," Roberts said. "Too many teachers are worried about No Child Left Behind that it is sucking the joy out of teaching."

Some of the concerns voiced by school officials included the problems of teaching to the test, funding the program properly and making adequate yearly progress. The most important suggestion, Roberts said, was that the program should become more flexible.

"We need to be taking a look at individual growth to measure performance," Roberts said. "(It is frustrating) if you go from zero to 80 and the goal is 85."

Alexa Posny, director of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education, accompanied Roberts on his swing through Kansas City. Posny, a former Shawnee Mission School District administrator and one-time candidate for Kansas education commissioner before the job went to former commissioner Bob Corkins, said changing the performance expectations is especially important for students with special needs.

"Special needs students, including those with disabilities and English learners, need a different way to measure performance," Posny said. "We are talking about learning as the constant, not time."

Roberts said the No Child Left Behind program is also insufficient on Title I funds. He said that while the budget climate in Kansas is difficult, more funds are needed in Title I.

"Some schools don't have the funding to keep up with No Child Left Behind," Roberts said. "If we could fund it at the level we promised, we wouldn't have to have lawsuits to figure out how we should educate our kids."

Superintendents in attendance at Friday's meeting included those from Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Shawnee and Wyandotte counties.

Comments

ksknowall 7 years, 10 months ago

It is not funding that is the problem - more funding will not help make NCLB better.

The NCLB should be abollished as a completely bad idea - not because of some phantom lack of funding issue.

zzgoeb 7 years, 10 months ago

Mmmm...now that Pat is "Mr. Nobody" in the Senate, he's become a regular liberal! No more tough talk, just a big ol' "mugwump" on the fence.

NCLB was a nightmare from the start, and it only took the senator 5plus years to see this...Let's hope he won't be re-elect!

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, looks like Roberts intends to win another term in the Senate.

Jamesaust 7 years, 10 months ago

"Special needs students, including those with disabilities and English learners, need a different way to measure performance," Posny said. "We are talking about learning as the constant, not time."

As long as you have a system that measures the learning and has consequences when it does not happen, such as teacher tracking not just student tracking.

Those with disabilities and other "special" students are 'especially' at risk of being shoved aside and not adequately addressed when their education becomes decoupled from everyone else's.

Maybe their instructors pay should be deposited in escrow, only to be released 'in time' when the students learning is, at last, documentable. Its all very nice to say, as Roberts did, that the kid went from 0 to 80 but the goal is 85 and therefore counted as failing but if the kid NEEDS the learning that counts as the 85 score then the system really is failing the kid. After all, life doesn't make accommodations.

BikerGrandma 7 years, 10 months ago

NCLB is good in theory, but needs to be administered by those who have worked in the education field. You cannot compare one 5th grade class to the preceding 5th grade class (as an example). Too many variables. One class could have more "at risk" students, one could have more boys than girls, more gifted, etc. The correct way to track how much progress is being made towards proficiency is to track the class itself from Kindergarten to graduation. Will there still be variables - yes, but not to the extent that we currently have. Everyone in education, including classified staff (those not employed as teachers or administrators) need to help all children succeed to their fullest ability. That means some students may not meet the "normal" level of proficiency, but can be proficient at their learning level.

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