Archive for Sunday, January 27, 2008

School board member urges change to No Child Left Behind

January 27, 2008


A Lawrence school board member wants the board to show support for a bill that would change the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Marlene Merrill has drafted a resolution that urges the state's congressional representatives to co-sponsor the No Child Left Behind Improvements Act of 2007, introduced by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

"I think that our experiences with the way the law as it currently operates have led to some people to see some serious flaws in it," Merrill said.

Merrill, a Lawrence resident and research and testing specialist for the Kansas City, Kan., school district, said she supports the legislation because it proposes moving to a testing system, known as the growth model, that emphasizes tracking individual students instead of giving tests at certain grade levels.

She also said that the current law focuses too much on requiring all students to be proficient by an "arbitrary date" and also that Congress has under-funded it.

"It sets schools up for failure. To leave it alone is just not a satisfactory end," Merrill said.

She said more than 50 Kansas school boards have passed similar resolutions.

Board members will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. They also will have a study session to discuss staffing for next year and the budget at 5:30 p.m. in the board meeting room.


KS 9 years, 10 months ago

This was a Teddy Kennedy plan that Bush supported. It is no different that any other program that makes people responsible. Take a look at a Medicare provider and see what kind of hoops they have to jump thru. Sorry, teach. No sympanthy here.

weirdalfan27 9 years, 10 months ago


I completely agree that NCLB needs to be thrown out, but unfortunately, it will never happen. First of all, legislators will never pass a bill to get rid of it. No legislator wants to be labeled as having voted "against" education. Second, there are too many businesses that are making money off of NCLB. There are business that provide testing, tutoring, educational consulting, etc that exist solely to "help" students and school districts prepare for the NCLB tests. Businesses with money = powerful political lobbyists. Those businesses will NEVER let NCLB die.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 10 months ago

Throwing it out and starting over...or not... seems like the best plan. Give the schools back to the states and/or local boards. BUT send those government education tax dollars back to Kansas.

Marlene Merrill is on to something in the meantime.

Marlene Merrill it might also be a good idea to review the curriculum for the virtual school and USD 497 across the board. Consider Calvert for both.

Jeff Barclay 9 years, 10 months ago

What about giving parents a dollar amount equal to what schools are spending so that parents can choose the school of their choice? Competition is good for everyone. I just doubt that another program, in and of itself, is going to improve individual outcomes. Teachers are overwhelmed trying to track classes, let alone giving each student an individualized program. Might as well have everyone home school.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 10 months ago

NCLB is an attempt to do the impossible, holding schools accountable. Not sure that's the answer, but what is.

And Barclay, that just can't work. If you take money out of public schools, the inner cities will be worse then they are becomming. Due to tax cuts and recession, crime is up in this country after 10-15 years of going down. (Will Clinton or Obama please mention that!)

Paul R Getto 9 years, 10 months ago

NCLB is well-intended, poorly designed, grossly underfunded and costly to administer. Kansas could "drop out" if they choose, but it would result in the loss of $300+ million in federal funds. The cost of running the program may exceed the Federal revenue provided, but it's unlikely Kansas will quit. In an election year, it is unlikely major work will done on NCLB. So far, the feds are $50-$60 BILLION dollars behind the promises made in 2001. But, we have a war to fight, right?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 years, 10 months ago

The whole program is based on the results of state assessments, which are all different. Some states have dummied down their assessments, so there are good results. I have no problem with the concept of leaving no child behind, but just requiring state assessments won't work. This act requires a severally mentally handicapped child to read at an 8th grade level, even though that the child will never be able to read at that level. A school is marked as a failure if it doesn't happen. So, instead of concentrating on skills that would allow this child to live independently, we are forced to make sure they know literary devices, such as, metaphor, simile, idioms, etc.

The act has also never been fully funded. Our state taxes are paying for the tests. Test developers are getting rich, while schools have to tighten the belt on programs that have proven successful, like the WRAP program. People complain about too many administrators, but they are needed to take care of all these government mandates.

Also, to truly leave no child behind we would have to increase our child welfare programs. It's not easy to teach a child whose parent is addicted to drugs. Half the time the child doesn't even make it to school, and forget homework. But there is no system for holding parents responsible. Of course, it happens in well to do families too. I've had more than 1 student whose parents give them gifts, because they got bad grades. Those mean old teachers were picking on their poor babies. Is the government willing to address these problems? What will they do with the parents who are leaving their child behind?

Mkh 9 years, 10 months ago

Let's get rid of NCLB completely. It doesn't need to be "changed", it needs to be abolished...then get rid of the Dept. of Ed.

domino 9 years, 9 months ago

What if a football or basketball coach were told, "You have to win all your games. Your kids have to all play at the same ability level. If you do not get them to play at the same level, you will have your equipment taken away, your funding cut and your practice time cut until they are all able to play at the same level. When you can do that, everything will be fine." That is what NCLB is doing in our schools. It is a good concept but SOOO poorly done.

KS 9 years, 9 months ago

Domino - Basketball and football are NOT requirements to get thru life. The three "r's" are. Maybe that is a surprise to you?

toefungus 9 years, 9 months ago

Get federal money and federal control out of our local schools.

teachks 9 years, 9 months ago

NCLB has good intent. Realistically, we want everyone to succeed and be "proficient." On the same hand, that is just not possible. It won't go away so the only thing we have left is to make changes to it and I am all for that. Way too much emphasis is put on the test and the number of students that score proficient. What about the students who don't perform well on tests? Some people are better at producing a project in order to demonstrate their knowledge.

coneflower 9 years, 9 months ago

NCLB has reduced teaching to teaching to that test. I haven't met a single teacher, parent or student who thinks it does any good at all. And it does a great deal of harm - all for billions of dollars. The only people who benefit are the companies that develop the tests - like Neil Bush's outfit.

domino 9 years, 9 months ago

KS - I was simply using the sports as an analogy. Teachers are being told they have to have all students achieve a certain level, when in actuality you know all kids do not learn at the same pace. Where it goes downhill is when these same teachers have to ignore students who do "get it" and spend all the extra time on the students who are struggling. Granted, these students need extra help, but should it be at the expense of the other students? I have a number of friends and family who are teachers and/or administrators. None of them feel that NCLB is doing what it was intended to do and, as coneflower stated, is simply having teachers teach what they have to teach so these kids can pass the test.

When I was a kid, there were kids in my class who were C & D students as well as A & B students. If the students couldn't pass what was required of them, they were held back and took that grade again. Now we are too afraid to "traumatize" our children by holding them back a grade so they learn what they need to pass the test and shuffle them on into the next level. Do your really believe that they are truly learning the 3 "R's" so they will have the requirements to get thru life?

I think parents need to step up and take some responsponsibility. If their child is not able to work at a level of their peers, maybe the parents should spend some extra time with their children on their homework. Perhaps they need to hire a tutor - if that is not an affordable option, what about an older student who would be willing to help out for a few bucks or an adult friend? Is their someone the parent could share duties with - maybe Billy's dad is good in English and Mary's mom is a math whiz - couldn't the parents work something out? As I stated in my earlier post, NCLB was a good idea - it just doesn't work!

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