Fw: CT vote
- To: <ARNemail@example.com>, "ARN-L" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Fw: CT vote
- From: "Monty Neill" <email@example.com>
- Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 17:28:58 -0500
from New Haven Register
State Senate resolution asks for ability to opt out of No Child law
Natalie Missakian , Register Staff 03/04/2004
HARTFORD - The state Senate unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday asking Congress to allow Connecticut and other states with high-performing schools to opt out of the education reform law No Child Left Behind.
But the House decided not to take up the matter Wednesday.
House Minority Leader Robert Ward, R-North Branford, said house leadership agreed not want to rush a vote.
"Clearly there's no emergency to send a resolution that has no enforceability to our Congressional delegation," said Ward, who opposes the measure.
The proposal asks Congress to exempt states that score in the top fifth percentile on national tests like the SAT, have a system to hold schools accountable for student achievement, publish school profiles and direct money to schools with large numbers of low-performing students.
Though merely symbolic, the request would put Connecticut in the company of several other states that are rising up against what they believe are cumbersome and costly requirements of the law.
Virginia, Vermont, Hawaii, Minnesota and Utah are among those that have passed similar measures.
"It's an impossible standard that in my mind sets up public schools in this nation to take a sucker punch and have a black eye that will never heal,'' said State Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, who introduced the waiver bill.
Educators across the state have criticized the law for focusing too heavily on testing and for failing to provide schools with money to help them improve.
The law requires all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014 and schools must make "adequate yearly progress" toward that goal. The law also requires 95 percent of students to take standardized tests.
There are currently 230 schools in Connecticut failing to make adequate progress.
Many schools made the list because of the participation or performance of a subgroup, such as special education students or racial minorities.
Schools that consistently fail to make the grade face sanctions, such as allowing students to transfer to better schools.
Gaffey, co-chairman of the legislature's education committee, has estimated it would cost more than $100 million to meet the act's requirements, which includes annual testing in of students in grades three through eight and one year of high school.
While acknowledging students in some states may benefit from the law, Gaffey said Connecticut already sets high standards and students outperform the nation academically.
But state Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, noted one doesn't have to go to Mississippi or Louisiana to find schools that are under performing.
"We can go by foot in the shadow of this building," said Fonfara, who said he was "conflicted" in his support of the bill.
Ward said that to suggest that most of Connecticut schools are doing well is like saying poor and minority children shouldn't reap the benefits of the law.
"I find that deeply offensive," he said.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin Sullivan, D-West Hartford, said the resolution was about states controlling their own education policy.
"Whether it's Connecticut or Mississippi, this is not Washington's business," he said.
Monty Neill, Ed.D.
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-864-4810 fax 617-497-2224
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