House votes unanimously to leave NCLB behind

On Monday, April 28, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted 128-0 (see Journal page 10824) in favor of an amendment to the omnibus education bill, SF 3001/HF 3316, that would ask the U.S. Secretary of Education to relieve the state of Minnesota from the federal No Child Left Behind Act's (NCLB) educational assessment and accountability provisions, while continuing to provide federal funding under the act.

As EdWatch points out, NCLB is costing school districts more than they are receiving, while de facto putting the federal government in charge of local and state educational policy. Further, academic achievement, especially for poor and minority students is not improving under NCLB.

Unfortunately, reported EdWatch in an e-mail to supporters, the Senate and Governor oppose this amendment, so only constituent pressure will increase its chances of surviving in the conference committee report. Even if the measure passes and is signed into law, the Bush administration has resisted similar past requests by the states.

The apparent long odds for the withdrawal from the federal intrusion into the states' education mandate reminds me of that surprisingly engaging legislative and moral saga, Amazing Grace. The film follows the lifelong quest of William Wilberforce to abolish the slave trade in England. Beginning in 1791, Wilberforce brought the same resolution to Parliament year after year, to defeat after defeat, until finally the bill passed in 1807.

Although slavery is not at stake in this case, freedom is. Please contact your state House member, state Senator, and Governor Pawlenty and urge them to support state control of K-12 education.