Spellings: Florida rocks!
In an effort to steady an increasingly wobbly No Child Left Behind, U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings made Florida the first stop today on a national tour, telling lawmakers in Tallahassee that the Sunshine State deserves credit for being ahead of the curve on accountability. "States like Florida elevated this movement from an ideal into reality, pioneering the use of data, standards, and accountability systems," she said. "Not because Washington said so, but because it was the right thing for students in Florida and for the state of Florida."
No Child may have passed Congress in 2002 with overwhelming, bipartisan support, but today there is widespread discontent. Maybe it's fitting, then, that in Tally Spellings took a dig from a key Republican and a dart from a leading Democrat.
"I feel as though Florida in some ways is penalized because we set our standards higher than other states," said Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka, the chair of the House Education Council, according to the Orlando Sentinel's political blog. Under No Child's rating system - which uses each state's own standardized test as a measuring stick - a majority of Florida schools are annually dubbed in need of improvement.
Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, issued a written statement calling No Child a "huge unfunded mandate" that forces states to waste school money on "incessant testing." "If it isn't dramatically overhauled to give states more flexibility, and to provide funding for its mandated tests," he said, "it should be allowed to fade into the sunset."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter