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VA's Gov. Kaine to recieve albatross NCLB Opt-Out Bill

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Lead from the Start: VA's Gov. Kaine to recieve <strike>albatross</strike> NCLB Opt-Out Bill

Monday, March 10, 2008

VA's Gov. Kaine to recieve albatross NCLB Opt-Out Bill

If there is one thing NCLB is good at it is being a dart board for politicians hoping to look good in the eyes of their constituents. Kaine, a proponent of early childhood access and friend of teachers, will be handed the albatross Virginia's Opt-out bill to be officially killed. Signing off on the bill could be a politcial boost or boon depending on whether the bill is killed in the U.S. Congress or turned into a better (more realistic) bill that the state would then have to reapply for funds under. Sometimes people forget that the NCLB is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in wolf's clothing. The original ESEA was a much kinder beast. If it took off it's costume would we follow it to school one day?

We have been discussing Virginia's theoretically possible Opt-Out from NCLB on an accomplished teacher's forum here in Virginia. The discussion has mostly centered around the same things that this post talks about. Politics. Most teachers seem to know that some sort of accountability measures are necessary and helpful, they also see the technocratic approach of NCLB as unnecessarily restrictive and punitive. So our "what if" conversation has mostly been a "what is" conversation.

The possibility that Gov. Kaine will sign the bill is extremely slim. If there is one universal truth in politics and education that I learned in a class about NCLB it is "never look soft" on accountability. According to Maria Glod, a Washington Post writer who covered Virginia's frustrations with the ED over English Language Learners and testing, she reported:
Virginia's Board of Education would be directed to recommend whether the state should pull out of a federal school accountability system under legislation that cleared the General Assembly Saturday. It now awaits consideration by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).
This means that there is only one political stop gap between the bill's passing (and making many teachers happy, at least for a little while) and Kaine wringing its neck and looking like the farmer who killed the family bird. If the board tells Kaine to kill it he is off the hook. But, if the board says yes...

However, there is a reality check in place in the bill. Glod writes:

the bill would require the board to present a plan to the governor and legislature by June 30, 2009.
Plenty of time to come up with a $350 million dollar short fall and a plan for all those Title I specialists.

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