Thursday, February 28, 2008

OEA Press Release on NCLB, Spellings Visit

U.S. Education Secretary Addresses NCLB Issues in Oklahoma

U. S. Secretarty of Education Margaret Spellings visited Oklahoma today as a part of her nationwide tour to discuss the No Child Left Behind federal mandates.

Spellings spoke to the senate and house education committees and about a hundred guests in the house chamber. She also answered questions from the audience about the reauthorization of NCLB.

“While measuring yearly progress and seeking proficiency from all students are worthy goals, the high-stakes standardized testing has undermined the quality of teaching,” said OEA president Roy Bishop.

Educators agree that children are more than just a test score, he said, and multiple measures are needed to accurately gauge student progress.

Not only did students improve at a faster rate before NCLB, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, but the narrow focus on reading and math test scores has forced school districts to cut curriculum time in areas like social studies, science, music and art.

The shifts in instructional time towards reading and math has caused time in other core subjects like science and social studies to be cut by more than 70 minutes per week, according to a report released this month by the Center on Education Policy.

“No Child Left Behind makes it increasingly difficult for our teachers to develop the well-rounded citizens our nation needs to compete in a global economy,” Bishop said.

There has also been an increasing gap in federal funding between what is given to implement the program and what is needed. In Oklahoma, the funding gap between authorized and actual appropriated funds was $206 million in 2007 and has accumulated to $753 million since its implementation in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Education budget data.

At a time when our common education fund is $37 million short and legislators are projecting shortages for next year, educators are concerned the districts will once again be left to absorb the costs of NCLB.

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