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Officials expect changes in No Child Left Behind

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama will take over the reins of the executive branch in January, but in the meantime he will make important decisions on his cabinet and staff who will help mold his policies and decisions, including public education across the United States.

National experts on education are foreseeing an Obama administration that will devote more money to public education but also loosen some of the rigid standards under No Child Left Behind.

Since its passage in 2001, No Child Left Behind was been criticized for mandating unreachable academic goals.

Florida created its own grading system to act as a counterweight to No Child Left Behind standards that divide students into “cells” and require that each score a specific percent to reach adequate yearly progress. While a historic number of Lee County schools scored an A under the state’s grading system, the district did not meet AYP.

According to Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, Obama has hinted at loosening No Child Left Behind.

“President-elect Obama has been very clear that he wants to increase federal education spending yet again, he also has hinted that he would decrease No Child Left Behind’s rigidly bureaucratic requirements,” said McCluskey.

McClusky added that he believes teacher unions across the country will push the Obama administration to release more funding. During his campaign, Obama said he would devote $18 million to the country’s public education system.

“In the long term, there is little doubt that Democratic control would lead to both profligate federal spending and more government meddling, though this time pushing progressive education ideas,” he said.

The Lee County School District contracted with Cerra Consulting this week to serve as a federal lobbyist in Washington, D.C. District officials, like others across the state, have felt the Legislature’s financial pinch and are now looking to focus on the federal government to secure more funding.

Members of the school board said last week that modifying No Child Left Behind will be a main priority. The board’s legislative liaison, Board Member Steven Teuber, said other priorities include funding and nationwide scoring.

Teuber said Thursday that he is not sure how Obama’s victory will affect the school district or state.

“We don’t know where he will stand on anything,” said Teuber. “It is a positive thing, for one aspect, because he definitely made enough pontifications that there will be more of an emphasis on public education. The importance of a federal lobbyist is more important than ever.”

It is likely that there will be an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, said Teuber, because the program was not well received by Democrats.

“It will be a whole new program,” he said. “How that impacts our district or state? Time will tell.”