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Leave 'No Child' behind

Ohanian Comment: What is remarkable about this editorial is that the people who support it put their names on it. Why doesn't Brent Staples, who writes the ugly editorials for the New York Times supporting NCLB put his name on them, along with the other editorialists there who support the nonsense he writes?

Besides that, this editorial has highly quotable lines.

We applaud the state legislators, including our local Republican representatives, who have signed onto a request to the federal government to have Virginia waived from the requirements of President Bush's draconian No Child Left Behind Act — his so-called education reform package that is actually an inflexible and unrealistic anchor around the neck of America's public school system.

We'd also like to wish them good luck. Del. Steve Landes' comment that he hopes the letter will "hopefully gather some attention from the folks in Washington" is about as ingenuous and naοve as they come and spoken like a true member of the Republican Party Faithful.

State after state has mounted challenges to NCLB, only to be ignored or given an arrogant "my way or the highway" answer by the Bush administration's Department of Education. Legislators from all 50 states belonging to the National Conference of State Legislatures — Republicans as well as Democrats — have declared Bush's education edict unworkable and called for 40 changes to fix it. Bush's home state of Texas — also home to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings — has had it with NCLB. The attorney general of Connecticut has sued the federal government over the unfunded mandate aspects of NCLB. Similar lawsuits have been filed by the largest teachers' union in the nation, the National Education Association, as well as school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont.

Despite all this, Bush's band plays merrily on. One hundred percent pass rates — even from severely disabled children and those who do not speak English — are demanded and expected. No money is forthcoming to fund these expectations, however — not that it would matter; the demands made by NCLB are impossible, unworkable and inflexible. The law is a shining example of only one thing — why it is so inadvisable for the federal government to dictate decisions which should be made only at the state and local level.

We hope Landes' faith is rewarded. Failing the arrival of Santa Claus, however, we would advise Virginia legislators to pull the plug altogether and forego all federal funding for education. That's a painful alternative, but it will hurt less than what we're going through now.

Opinions expressed in this feature represent the majority opinion of the newspaper's editorial board, consisting of: Gary Stout, president and publisher; David Fritz, executive editor; Cindy Corell, city editor; Jim McCloskey, editorial cartoonist; Dennis Neal, opinion page editor; and Macon Rich, production director.

— Editorial
News Leader


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