Friday, September 30, 2005

The Spellings Report: Finally, Some Direction From Above

After weeks of uncertainty, Secretary Of Education Margaret Spellings has issued her ruling:
Schools affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes won a big reprieve Thursday, getting a one-year pass from federal penalties even if students' scores fall short of government standards.

Schools and districts "seriously affected" by the hurricanes may delay important provisions of federal law without having to ask for approval, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said.

Spellings has been flexible with school chiefs in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. But she had not budged, until now, on student progress required under the No Child Left Behind Act.Most notably, schools that get federal poverty aid will not have to worry about penalties they normally would face when they show little progress in reading and math.

Typically, schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two straight years must offer students a transfer to a better school. Schools that fall short three consecutive years must offer poor children the tutoring of their choice. The penalties get steeper by the year.

In recent letters to state leaders, Spellings denied requests to waive this yearly progress requirement. She said it was the "linchpin" of the education law that President Bush pushed through Congress.

Spellings changed course on Thursday, telling the House Education and the Workforce Committee that she would give states a one-year grace period, as allowed in cases of natural disaster.
Common-sense prevails.

Now if we classroom teachers could just get the Secretary to also hold students and parents accountable for their own academic success we might have a viable chance of fulfilling the requirements mandated by No Child Left Behind.
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