Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization on the Move!

I have been asked to come to Washington, D.C. this week to help lobby for needed changes in the federal law that impacts every public school in America. Since the last reauthorization in 2003, educators have talked about needed changes in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You may remember that President George W. Bush termed the law "No Child Left Behind". It was a catchy term that took hold. Sadly, education professionals recognized that the provisions insisted we focus our schools on assessments. We fully agreed that high standards based on something we could measure was needed. One problem has been a requirement for teachers to be highly qualified in every subject they teach. This is difficult when teachers are assigned to teach classes for which they are not prepared or schedule changes happen due to student needs. Another issue is the concept of turnaround models for school change when not enough progress is being made. The difficulty of staffing a school in a small rural school is tough to begin with, and the added option of either closing a school (essentially closing the doors on a community) or changing the staff when it's already hard to find qualified and willing teachers, is almost impossible. I have meetings with Senator Murkowski and Senator Begich to talk about needed changes. They both understand many of our concerns and I look forward to speaking with them on the specifics of the bill and ammendments upon which they will make decisions.

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