States Want Out of Education Law
by Maureen Feighan and Christine MacDonald, The Detroit
News, February 29, 2004
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The No Child
Left Behind Act is only 2 years old, but the federal education
law is already sparking a mini-revolt from some states.
Outraged by the law’s perceived intrusiveness, unfunded
requirements and infringement on local control, at least five
states, including Virginia, Arizona, Maine, Vermont and
Minnesota, have either passed resolutions or are considering
ones that rebuke the education law. Michigan, however, remains
committed to holding schools accountable under the reform.
No state has officially opted out of the law, which would force
them to forfeit millions of dollars in federal money for
disadvantaged students. But several are taking steps to get out
or calling on Congress to exempt them, arguing the law will cost
far more to implement than they receive in federal funds.
Martin Ackley, spokesman for the Michigan Department of
Education, and Elizabeth Boyd, spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer
Granholm, say there are no discussions of sacrificing the
federal money to avoid complying with No Child Left Behind.
Michigan receives $420 million in federal dollars that go toward
helping disadvantaged students.
“There’s grumbling about (the law), but regardless of what you
do, you’re going to have grumbling,” said state Sen. Wayne
Kuipers, R-Holland, who chairs the Senate education committee.
“It’s important for us to have an accountability tool that’s
effective and gives us real answers. But is there some
frustration? You bet.”
Utah’s House of Representatives passed a bill early this month
that would’ve allowed the state to only implement the law where
there is adequate funding. The state Senate has since put that
on hold. Pulling out altogether would have cost the state $106
million in federal funds, said Utah Rep. Margaret Dayton.
“What we have not been told is how much it will cost us to
implement all of the requirements of No Child Left Behind if we
choose to opt out,” said Dayton in a written statement. “That is
a serious question that has plagued all states.”
Sandy Kress, a Texas attorney who helped construct the law as
former senior education adviser to President Bush, thinks most
states are committed to No Child Left Behind. But the federal
government could do a better job of pointing out ways the law
could be more flexible, such as providing different ways to test
special education and English as a second language students, he
In the end, he doesn’t expect many states to pull out.
“Most states are taking this seriously,” Kress said. “We are
going to make it.”
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