The following are excerpts from a recent op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune by Jim Jenkin, a parent whose children go to school in the Salt Lake School District:
"In all their years of showing whos in charge and ideological chest-beating, however, the [Utah State] Legislature has never stooped to hurting children - until now. This time they will hurt children, lots of them. They will hurt them directly and hurt the ones who are in the most need. House Bill 135, the measure to opt out of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), damages children's education by turning back millions of dollars in federal funds that support education for the handicapped and the disadvantaged among Utah's school children.
"In Salt Lake District the loss is reported as $9.3 million, or just under $400 a child for the districts 24,000 or so students. Under current tax laws, this money is irreplaceable. Maybe other districts are better off, maybe others are worse. It doesnt matter - 24,000 casualties are more than enough to give anybody pause."
"The bill also would replace the burdensome NCLB mandatory reporting system, based on testing in two subjects, with a burdensome state system of mandatory reporting of testing in four subjects. So much for saving money. The bill also would impact procedures that allow educators to monitor the progress of the less-successful groups, thus removing the key reform of NCLB. The best kids will again be used to bring up the scores of the worst, and failure will once again be safely hidden.
"So, to recap, the bills sponsors have been so quick to jump on the states rights bandwagon that theyve overlooked that theyre giving the feds back $110 million (which they propose to replace with a $63 million state surplus) and theyre increasing the reporting burden while eliminating a good portion of its effectiveness. Were spending $63 million to lose $110 million for little or no benefit. No Child Left Behind is far from perfect but its better than this dog by miles.
"The primary point, however, is still that this bill hurts kids. There is no way you can take $8,000 to $10,000 out of a classroom and not hurt those kids education. Children are our future economic stability, our future caretakers and our hope for the future of America and the world. To degrade them is to degrade ourselves."
Note: Part II of Secretary Spellings recent testimony on lifelong learning before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will be featured in an upcoming Extra Credit. Part I, which was featured in last Fridays Extra Credit, is available online at: http://www.ed.gov/news/newsletters/extracredit/2005/04/0415.html.
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