NCLB: feds out of education in 2008

Minnesota schools could emerge from the financial and administrative burdens of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) if conservatives in the state and in Congress have their way.

In Minnesota, Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina) has announced that he will introduce a bill in the Senate to withdraw the state schools from the federal program. Although some estimate that the state would thereby forfeit $250 million in federal funding, "Michel said the state can absorb the loss of federal funds because of all the money it would save by not having to adhere to the law. Indeed, a legislative auditor's report released in 2004 said that Minnesota schools would have to spend tens of millions of dollars to meet No Child Left Behind's requirements (Star Tribune, January 1, 2008, "No Child Left Behind: GOP senators want it to be history," by Norman Draper)."

The bill is also supported in the Senate by Senate Minority Leader Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester), Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie); and Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna). The effort has had bipartisan support in previous years, although DFLers will be pressured by the Education Minnesota teachers union to "mend it, don't end it." Election year politics will also complicate the bill's support.

At the federal level, The Academic Partnerships Lead Us To Success Act, or A-PLUS Act (H.R.1539/S.893) would restore state and local control in education, while continuing to improve academic achievement through state-level academic standards and testing. The House bill is co-sponsored by Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6), Rep. John Kline (MN-2), and Rep. Jim Ramstad (MN-3). Neither Minnesota Senator is a co-sponsor of S. 893.