Lack of consensus hurts education law
Revisions to the No Child Left Behind Act have been postponed until next year.
School districts and states anticipating revisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law will have to wait at least until next year, if not longer, as key members of Congress and the Bush administration have been unable to cross deep divisions over proposals.
Neither the House nor the Senate is likely to move out measures to rewrite the controversial law, which has had uneven success and has drawn criticism that it places too much emphasis on test scores and penalties and deposits too little funding where it is needed.
The most detractors and proponents can agree upon right now is that the program should be changed to fix problems that have emerged in the five years since it was enacted. With President Bush's attention chiefly on shoring up his teetering foreign policy and Congress smothered by an inability to find consensus, legislation has been put off until next year. Even then, against the backdrop of a presidential election, the hot-button issue could encounter more obstructions.
Among the contentious proposals are whether to enhance the carrot by budgeting more money for the program, to weaken the stick by tempering some of the penalties levied against so-called failing schools, or to do both.
Bush would prefer to give money to low-income students in failing schools so they can attend private schools. Democrats, led by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, who worked with the president to create the law, want to adjust provisions that unfairly punish a school when just a few students do not meet standards in the same way as a school where significant numbers fall short.
Unfortunately, no revisions -- and there are many to be discussed and made -- will be forthcoming.
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