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Des Moines Board of Education Recognizes NCLB Will Destroy Public Education

Des Moines school board members Tuesday expressed their distaste for new federal education-accountability legislation, saying it likely will destroy public education.
Expecting all students to be proficient in reading and math in 12 years "is not realistic - period," board member Margaret Borgen said. "There can't be 100 percent proficiency. We all will fail."

Added board member Marc Ward: "Isn't this moving us toward the destruction of public education?"

Board members' comments came after a presentation on the new law, No Child Left Behind, by Judy Jeffrey, who oversees the Iowa Department of Education's early childhood, elementary and secondary programs. The law mandates all students to be proficient in reading and math no later than 2014.
Schools and districts whose students fail to make adequate yearly academic progress face sanctions that include allowing students to transfer to other schools and requiring districts to provide students with supplemental services.

Jeffrey said policy-makers didn't believe all public-school students are receiving a solid educational foundation. The new law addresses those concerns, she said.

The sanctions from the law affect only schools and districts that receive money from Title 1, a federal program that provides money to improve reading and math instruction in schools with a high percentage of poor students.
Iowa receives $114 million from Title 1.

Board member Laura Sands asked whether districts should forgo the federal money rather than face sanctions that could wind up costing thousands of dollars. Some sanctions could cost more money than districts receive from Title 1, she said.

"That's a topic of conversation across the country," Jeffrey said. "We have districts across Iowa asking that question as well."
Jeffrey cautioned the board, however, that Congress was currently debating the reauthorization of other federal education programs. Lawmakers also are considering tying funding from those programs to No Child Left Behind, a move that could make it costly for
for districts to ignore the legislation.

— Kathy A. Bolten
School-sanctions law assailed
Des Moines Register
April 16, 2003


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