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June 9, 2004 Extra Credit
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June 9, 2004

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June 8
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Colorado Education Commissioner Calls NCLB Heir to Brown v. Board

The following are excerpts from an op-ed by Colorado Education Commissioner William Moloney, which recently ran in the Rocky Mountain News:

"As the nation wraps up its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision - the birth of the modern Civil Rights era - it's clear that the natural heir to that historic milestone is the law called No Child Left Behind. Just as Brown sought to lift the yoke of appallingly inferior education from the backs of children of color, so does NCLB summon America to finally complete that unfinished task. Yet, strangely, NCLB - which should be a consensus national mission - has been widely attacked for reasons ranging from ‘too much paperwork’ to ‘not enough money’ or, most ominously, ‘unrealistic goals.’ This is a tragedy because the cumulative effect of these assaults threatens to overwhelm the high moral purpose of NCLB."

"When Colorado launched its Coalition to Close the Achievement Gap - co-chaired by Gov. Bill Owens and Attorney General Ken Salazar and ‘aimed at lifting the educational achievement of children of poverty and color’ - in 2000, we agreed that this cause was such a high priority that it must go forward even without any new dollars. However, despite severe cuts in state funding (we lost 25 percent of our state positions last year), there were new dollars - all of them thanks to NCLB. Without the 39 percent increase in federal funding over the last two years, Achievement Gap activities all across Colorado would have been devastated. And while new tasks came with the new dollars - and yes, even new paperwork - this exchange has been more than worth it for our most vulnerable children."

"Today, there are schools in Colorado and elsewhere in our country with heavy minority populations that have eliminated the achievement gap. There just aren't nearly enough of them. NCLB is an emblem of a national crusade to ensure that the promise of America is the birthright not just of some children, but all children. This crusade, which will define the future of our democracy, cannot allow the political convenience of adults to trump the educational needs of children. If we fail to meet this test, how shall we explain to the children we left behind? "

"America is a story about a great people who rise to great challenges. May this chapter be no exception. The price of failure is simply too much for our nation to pay."

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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.

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