Home Schooling groups, including the Home School Legal Defense Association, are closely watching the development of this legislation, as they have previous federal legislation on education. Their biggest concern is that such legislation will ultimately lead to de facto national standards for education that will apply to anyone providing education, including home schoolers.
"HSLDA said that as an organization it remained neutral on the 2001 NCLB update, “because it included strongly written protections for homeschoolers, and prohibitions on federal funding for national teacher certification, national standards, national testing, and national databases.”
“HSLDA’s federal relations staff have read this 868-page bill, and we believe that while it does not directly impact homeschool freedom, the bill will 1) increase the federal role in education at the expense of state, local and parental control, and 2) will greatly increase the pressure on states to align their curriculum and standards, resulting in de facto national education standards,” said the report compiled by Melanie P. Palazzo, the organization’s congressional action program director, and William A. Estrada of the organization’s federal relations office."
Senator Mike Enzi (R) WY, ranking member on the Senate Committee on Health Ed Labor & Pensions, had this to say in his October 19th statement to the Committee.
On the central issues of accountability, standards, assessments, teachers and principals, parental involvement, and the role of the federal government, we have fought hard to reach this agreement, though neither of us would say it is perfect. From where I sit, far more could have been done to allow states and locals to take the lead in the nine areas Senator Alexander and I identified as issues needing fixing. I also acknowledge, Mr. Chairman that you would have gone further in the opposite direction to reach these goals. But, with nearly every successful piece of bipartisan legislation, we need to find those areas with which we agree and go forward trying to find solutions where resolution is not as obvious. Finding bipartisan solutions is essential to passing legislation.This last statement is a bit misleading. The bill does not "do away with" AYP, but instead creates tiers of AYP. What it does do away with is the notion of pass/fail that schools face under NCLB and the draconian response required to a failed rating under that system. Another positive is that it returns the decision process, of what to do with schools that are struggling with AYP, to local control. The bill specifically states, "(iii) NO FEDERAL INFLUENCE- The Secretary shall not prioritize, incentivize, or require the use of, any particular method of school turnaround or school improvement strategy." There is still much reporting to the Secretary of Ed, though the office is not allowed to act upon data obtained through that reporting. Calls into question why local personnel must spend time providing this reporting, but bi-partisan compromise typically leads to such erroneous requirements.
On substance, there is no doubt a rewrite of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is necessary. Over the past decade I have heard countless times that NCLB's rigid federal accountability system handcuffs states, micromanaging how school administrators and teachers approach instruction, leaving very little room for innovation and creative approaches in the classroom. Although the fundamental tenet of NCLB - a good education for every student - was a good one that is retained in this proposal, the approach to reaching that goal was built upon the flawed belief that Washington can solve every problem in education if we only pass just one more law, one more regulation, one more program, and throw more taxpayer dollars at our classrooms.
On the contrary, I believe we can approach this issue by giving states and school districts the resources needed to support instruction and by providing transparency of results to parents so that they know whether their child is receiving a quality education. This bill rejects the notion that states and schools cannot be trusted to ensure that every child receives the education they need and that Washington has to continually interfere so that their students can succeed...
The bill eliminates dozens of programs that no longer serve a purpose or are duplicative of other programs, even in agencies other than the Department of Education. We have also streamlined many additional programs into consolidated, flexible spending authorities. The proposal also increases the flexibility states and school districts have to transfer funds across programs to make sure that they are being used to address identified student needs...
The bill does away with Adequate Yearly Progress and Annual Measurable Objectives and instead expects all students to be making progress toward achieving college and career readiness.
The bill also contains language pertaining to a student's rights to transfer to another public school if the student did not meet the proficiency level for language or math on the state assessment. This provision would not apply if states have specific legislation prohibiting it.