Some Republicans said yesterday that a backlash against the law was inevitable. Many voters in affluent suburban and exurban districts -- GOP strongholds -- think their schools have been adversely affected by the law. Once-innovative public schools have increasingly become captive to federal testing mandates, jettisoning education programs not covered by those tests, siphoning funds from programs for the talented and gifted, and discouraging creativity, critics say.Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) is author of the new House bill and he claims to already have enough backing to get the measure passed.
Under Hoekstra's bill, any state could essentially opt out of No Child Left Behind after one of two actions. A state could hold a referendum, or two of three elected entities -- the governor, the legislature and the state's highest elected education official -- could decide that the state would no longer abide by the strict rules on testing and the curriculum.Republican lawmakers involved in the new legislation claim Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and other administration officials have moved to tamp down dissent within the GOP, but so far their efforts don't seem to be paying off.
The Senate bill is slightly less permissive, but it would allow a state to negotiate a "charter" with the federal government to get away from the law's mandates.
In both cases, the states that opt out would still be eligible for federal funding, but those states could exempt any education program but special education from No Child Left Behind strictures.
"Republicans voted for No Child Left Behind holding their noses," said Michael J. Petrilli, an Education Department official during Bush's first term who is now a critic of the law. "But now with the president so politically weak, conservatives can vote their conscience."Voting their conscious may be what they're telling the public, but concern for themselves appears to be part of the equation.
Parent unrest in places such as Scarsdale, N.Y., and parts of suburban Michigan could affect members of Congress. Connecticut has sued the government over the law, while legislatures in Virginia, Colorado and heavily Republican Utah have moved to supersede it.I'd like to assume that parents in poor neighborhoods could move members of the GOP to "vote their conscience" too, but considering the fact we still have millions of Americans without health care I find it hard to believe they would.
Update: The Impolitic has a good post about NCLB that's worth reading. I agree with her bottom line assessment that "NCLB has nothing to do with kids and everything to do with money." (And it certainly has been good for private tutoring companies. )