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Teachers Plan Protest of Law: 3 Cheers for Arizona Teachers

Ohanian Comment: I'm glad the Arizona teachers are making themselves heard, but funding is not the problem with the law. The law is rotten at the core and at all the edges. Why throw good money after bad?

Besides that, asking for more money always plays poorly with the public.

Arizona teachers say they will make President Bush's No Child Left Behind law a focus of their annual Education Day rally next week at the Capitol.

Outcry by state critics over No Child Left Behind has intensified in recent weeks after more than half the state's districts, including Mesa, failed to make "adequate yearly progress" under the law's definitions.

Teachers are planning a pre-rally event today at Mesa High School. They hope to enlist hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers and staff in the state's largest school district for the March 3 rally at the Capitol.

"Half of it is going to be logistics," said Will Moore, organizational consultant for the Arizona Education Association, which is hosting the Capitol rally. "We need to make the signs and organize the buses."

Teachers meeting today expect to discuss ways to build community and political support so state lawmakers will fund education programs, Moore said.

At the March 3 rally, educators also will focus on protecting K-12 funding and promoting early-childhood education.

Critics have charged that the legislation sets up public schools to fail and that the No Child Left Behind law does not give the states enough funding to cover required spending under the law.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill that would take Arizona out of compliance with the law. Other states, including Utah, have made similar moves.

"I have no problem with the accountability (of No Child Left Behind), just fund it," said Cindi Hobbs, Mesa Schools Governing Board president. "The program is only as good as the money that follows it."

The situation in Arizona mirrors a national debate over the law, one of Bush's key initiatives. This weekend, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he would repeal the legislation if elected.

— Justin Juozapavicius
Arizona Republic


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