Friday, March 16, 2007

GOP Bills Would Relax Test Requirements of 'No Child' Law

With all of the ramped up activity surrounding the reauthorization of No child Left Behind, it seemed that some unified Republican/Democratic action to relax testing requirements while preserving NCLB's intent might be in the offing. Well, maybe...but...not so unified. Politics makes strange bedfellows and the White House appears unified with the Democrats in their criticism of the Republicans!

This story from the Washington Post.

Republican critics of the No Child Left Behind law flexed their growing muscle yesterday as 57 GOP lawmakers, including the national party chairman, endorsed legislation that would undermine President Bush's signature education initiative.

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who voted for the law in 2001, said he now opposes it because it has shifted control of public schools to the federal government in a more dramatic way than he ever imagined.

"The overwhelming intrusion of No Child Left Behind is too large to deal with unless you fundamentally change the legislation," Blunt said about the introduction of bills yesterday in the House and Senate. The bills would allow states to receive federal education aid even if they opt out of requirements to test all students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school.

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former Bush Cabinet member, was one of the sponsors of the Senate legislation. Others included Jon Kyl (Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, who voted for the law in 2001, and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a 2008 presidential hopeful, who also voted for it.

In an unusual show of bipartisan cooperation, Democrats and the White House attacked the GOP critics' legislation.

"Rather than work with us in a constructive way to improve the law, this group of Republican lawmakers is trying to dismantle it," Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement. "Their irresponsible and unacceptable proposal would send billions of federal taxpayer dollars to the states with no accountability for how it is spent."

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