Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Spellings Report: High Noon In The Lone Star State

Just last Friday, we took a look at Education Secretary Margaret Spellings's (bios here and there) "new flexibility" regarding The No Child Left Behind Act and the use of alternative assessment instruments for some students with severe learning disabilities.

The Department of Education has indicated that up to 2% of a school's population may be given these alternate assessments in lieu of standard grade-level tests. Before the change, 1% was the maximum allowable percentage.

Calling herself an "Earth mother-type of Republican," Spellings
is taking the State of Texas to task for having too few students take grade-level assessments:

Spellings disclosed that her department has given Texas, where her boss, President Bush, once was governor and where she previously worked, 10 business days to come up with a plan for dramatically reducing the number of students exempted from grade-level tests required under the No Child Left Behind law.

Texas has exempted 9 percent of its students while the law limits that to 3 percent. In a breakfast session with reporters, she said those exemptions by the state where she went to school are disappointing.

A day after saying she was going to be more flexible about administering the law, Spellings said Texas is an "outlier" in abiding by the law, and she won't tolerate it and could penalize the state by withholding some of its federal money.

"Nine percent of the kids in Texas is nearly half a million kids," she said. "No Child Left Behind does not mean half a million left behind. . . . Nine percent is not on the table, period."

She said Texas officials seem to think "they can take their licks and take a little federal funding ding and move on down the road."

The secretary acknowledged she told an interviewer she was an "earth mother" kind of Republican, but when it comes to Texas, she said, "I intend to take a very strong approach." She said she has wide discretion to reduce federal funding.

We agree with's thoughts on the matter:
"Grab your Birkenstocks and some trail mix, you don't want to miss this one!"
The question that we are pondering is: Which group of Texans will blink first? Will they be the ones in Austin, or the ones in Washington?
An Invitation: All writers and readers of education-related posts are invited to contribute to the ninth edition of The Carnival of Education. Please send your submissions to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. We should receive your contributions no later than 10:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, April 12, 2005. The Carnival midway will open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning. Get our easy-to-follow entry guidelines here. View the latest edition of the Carnival there.

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