States, schools criticize act

By David Tomas

The No Child Left Behind Act has prompted criticism from states and school districts that claim they do not have enough funding to meet federal guidelines.

This longtime controversy has escalated recently, with three states suing the federal government under the provisions of the act.

Connecticut, Utah and Texas are among the states suing the Department of Education for the lack of funding in programs related to the NCLB Act that help students keep up with the requirements, said Mark Wancket, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Education.

“Illinois is not among the states suing the Department of Education for lack of funding,” Wancket said.

As the name suggests, the NCLB Act was created to ensure that no child is left behind in reading, math and English among other subjects taught in public schools. The act also provides for equal quality education for all children in America.

Lack of funding for this program is making it difficult for many public school districts throughout the state to achieve the adequate yearly progress, said Linell Lasswell, District 428 assistant superintendent.

The DeKalb School District has schools on the improvement list – schools that did not meet the adequate yearly progress standards set forth in the act.

Both DeKalb middle schools, Clinton Rosette Middle School, 650 N. First St. and Huntley Middle School, 821 S. Seventh St., are on the school improvement list, Lasswell said. This means they did not achieve the goals set by the ISBE and the NCLB Act.

Some school administrators are pleased with the act, signed into law in 2002 by President George W. Bush. The goal is very positive, but some of the aspects of this program are not well thought out, Lasswell said.

“As a district, we’re kind of hurt because our students do better than state average,” she said. “Because of that, we get worse funds than other districts.”

The NCLB Act gives state and local authorities flexibility to use federal education funds in almost any way they prefer, according to the White House Web site.

This flexibility allows states to decide whether to take any money.

Some states refused to accept Title I money so they would not have to follow the requirements of NCLB, Lasswell said.

Another problem of the act is all students in every subgroup at every school have the same goals, including bilingual education students and special education students, Lasswell said.

Students at DeKalb High School, 1515 S. Fourth St., will take the Prairie State Achievement Exam next week, principal Larry Stinson said.

“It is a big challenge for us to prepare every student for these tests,” he said.

These exams help determine whether a school is making adequate yearly progress with the NCLB Act.

DHS has made adequate yearly progress since the law was made in January 2002.