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NEA In Search of a Plaintiff

2003 will go down as the year when schools got busy implementing President Bush's far-reaching No Child Left Behind education reform law, even as the nation's largest teachers union dug in and resisted the law.

Public schools spent millions to upgrade teachers' qualifications, test all students in grades 3 through 8 in reading and math and establish tutoring programs for students who don't measure up. As required by the law, many others began the 2003-2004 school year by offering for the first time free transfers to students who wanted to attend schools with better test scores.

The National Education Association, which represents 2.7 million teachers and other school employees, said it would sue the federal government, seeking to repeal or dramatically rewrite the law. The NEA said schools can't be forced to pay for the extensive testing, tutoring and transfer requirements.

The law labels schools "in need of improvement" if even a small percentage of students don't improve test scores from year to year.

Education Secretary Rod Paige blasted the NEA's planned lawsuit, saying the union wanted to assemble "a coalition of the whining to hold kids back."

As it stands, the NEA hasn't found a state willing to serve as plaintiff.

— Greg Toppo
No Child Left Behind takes center stage
USA Today


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