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April 22, 2003, Extra Credit
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April 22, 2003
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Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce: "When it comes to flexibility in meeting federal regulations, the No Child Left Behind Act has it."
Following is the text of a letter to the editor published in today's Columbus Dispatch:

'Dispatch' wrong in criticizing education act
Tuesday, April 22, 2003


Enough already! The Dispatch got the facts wrong about the No Child Left Behind Act not once, but twice.

In an editorial on Dec. 1, 2002, the newspaper stated that the No Child Left Behind Act would be the demise of the school lottery system and would "completely reconfigure'' the student populations enrolled in Columbus Public Schools' successful alternative schools.

The Dispatch was 100 percent wrong. Flexibilities in the law have allowed Columbus schools to craft an excellent enrollment system for its alternative schools that allows students from low-performing schools to have access, while not replacing current students or those who are on enrollment waitlists.

In an April 2 editorial, the newspaper again got it wrong, saying that the federal law is at fault for Ohio's state-written accountability system because "in its zeal to impose a one-size-fits-all regulation on local education, the law forced states to configure formulas relatively quickly."

The Dispatch needs to apply some simple logic: If the federal law intended to impose a one-size-fits-all regulation on local education, then why was each state allowed to design its own accountability system?

Flexibility and local control are the hallmarks of the law. It is a shame that the newspaper is attempting to blame any unfortunate outcomes of the state's accountability system on a federal law that was written with unprecedented state and local flexibility in the use of federal money. How much more flexibility could be given than to allow states to design their own school accountability models that govern which schools get additional federal resources?

The Dispatch even went so far as to level a cheap shot at Rep. John A. Boehner, R-West Chester, chairman of the committee that drafted the law. The April 2 editorial chided Boehner for needing to look all the way to North Dakota to find an editorial praising No Child Left Behind. Apparently, The Dispatch didn't look in its own backyard: the Cincinnati Enquirer and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland both praised the law. Even USA Today, circulation 2.2 million, agreed: "Change is hard. But there are worse things than being forced to improve—such as letting thousands of poor and minority students lose the chance for an education."

When it comes to flexibility in meeting federal regulations, the No Child Left Behind Act has it. When it comes to reporting facts, The Dispatch needs to do its homework.

U.S. REP. DEBORAH PRYCE
Upper Arlington


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About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

If you would like the NCLB Extra Credit emailed to you, please send a request to Geoff Goodman at NoChildLeftBehindUpdate@ed.gov or call (202) 205-9191.

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Last Modified: 08/23/2003