Bill would dump No Child Left Behind in Minnesota

No Child Left Behind is in my mind the largest intrusion of the federal government into state policy, and the biggest federal boondoggle, in my lifetime...They have actually created a cash subsidy to encourage states to lower standards.
—David Jennings, as interim superintendent of the Minneapolis public schools, Star Tribune, September 21, 2003

A pair of bills with bipartisan support (HF 2007 and SF 1768), including Senate authors Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) and a raft of DFL authors in the House, would withdraw Minnesota from the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Although such a move would also cause Minnesota to lose federal education funding, it would also allow the state's schools to emerge from a variety of federal mandates, many of which are unfunded or underfunded, which would free up money currently being spent to comply with these mandates. The state would actually save money and regain more control over its schools by withdrawing from NCLB!

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, many states are considering measures such as Minnesota's, ranging from resolutions or memorials requesting Congress and/or the President to provide waivers or other means of flexibility and/or additional money to cover its mandates; bills that would prohibit the state from spending state funds to comply or state that they will comply only in areas fully funded by the federal government; and bills or resolutions "opting-out" of NCLB and returning all related federal funding.

Constitutionally, eduation is a state function that should be administered by the state and locally-elected school boards, not "regional" boards, the federal government, or the United Nations. The Legislature should pass this measure swiftly, and Governor Pawlenty should sign it into law this session. It would be a major victory for the local control of our schools.