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Three States, Teachers Union Act Against Federal Education Law

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT.

School governing organizations in three states and the nation’s largest teachers’ union recently brought legal action against the federal government. Nine school districts and the National Education Association criticize a federal education reform law.

They say the Department of Education has failed to provide enough money for schools to carry out the law called No Child Left Behind. They accuse the Department of Education of violating a part of the law that says states cannot be forced to spend their own money to meet the federal requirements. They say fully obeying the law would cost the states thousands of millions of dollars to test students.

The state of Utah also criticized the law. State lawmakers voted to place top importance on Utah’s own school performance system when it conflicts with the federal government. Utah and several other states say they want to use their own educational reform plans.

The No Child Left Behind law forms the main part of the Bush Administration’s education policy. It calls for every student in every school to meet reading and mathematics requirements by two thousand fourteen.

United States Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says the law’s main goal is to improve education for minority students. She says No Child Left Behind does not harm states financially. Secretary Spellings notes that the federal government has increased educational spending by forty percent over the past three years. She says this pays for testing and other expenses under the law.

Miz Spellings has promised to work with states to carry out the law. She says schools must show progress in tests by special groups including low-income and minority students. The idea of reporting their test scores is to keep schools from hiding the scores of poorly performing students. That can happen when schools average low test scores with those of students with higher scores.

Under No Child Left Behind, a school can receive a poor rating and be punished if some groups of students score poorly. If bad performance continues, struggling students get free after-school help. And, parents can send their children to a better school.

This VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT was written by Jerilyn Watson. I’m Gwen Outen.