’NCLB - Let’s Get It Right’; Union Announces National Campaign to Educate Public and Elected Leaders on Improving the NCLB Law
WASHINGTON, May 19 -- The American Federation of Teachers today announced the launch of a national education and advocacy campaign aimed at improving the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal education law. The campaign includes extensive radio and print advertising and a coordinated mobilization of AFT members at the national and grassroots level.
“The stakes are too high. We can’t wait for the 2007 reauthorization of this law to begin talking about how to fix it,” said AFT President Edward J. McElroy. “The problems with NCLB go far beyond its deplorable underfunding, and we are serious about getting NCLB right.”
“The AFT consistently has called for greater accountability and higher standards of learning. That hasn’t changed,” said AFT Executive Vice President Antonia Cortese. “We believe that to help all children succeed, schools need good curriculums, better assessments, professional development for staff, intensive interventions for struggling students and fair accountability.”
The AFT has long been a leader of standards-based reform as a means of closing the achievement gap. The spring issue of American Educator, AFT’s professional journal, is devoted to standards-based reform, accountability and NCLB. The magazine (see http://www.aft.org) features articles from leading researchers and provides workable solutions for correcting flaws in the law.
Most AFT members polled last year favor fixing NCLB rather than eliminating the federal law. However, AFT members have expressed considerable frustration with NCLB -- particularly the law’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) provision. Under AYP, a growing number of schools that have shown encouraging academic progress are being incorrectly labeled as “failing” and are facing sanctions at the very time they could benefit most from additional support.
Commenting on AFT’s campaign, the first phase of which focuses on AYP, Cortese added, “Progress should be measured through a fair and valid process. AYP doesn’t do that. In fact, the ”P“ in AYP doesn’t really measure progress. That’s why it must be fixed.”
“What we object to is the misnamed adequate yearly progress, NCLB’s accountability formula, because it is an invalid measure of progress that serves to punish many schools that are, in fact, making solid academic progress. The entire standards movement is in jeopardy if the shortcomings of NCLB are left unaddressed,” said Cortese.
“How we measure things really does matter” are the first words in the “NCLB -- Let’s Get It Right” campaign’s first 60-second commercial broadcasting on radio stations across the country. The advertisement draws comparisons between the NCLB’s AYP requirements and yardsticks where an inch is not an inch.
In addition to the advertising component of the campaign and a continued federal lobbying program in Washington, D.C., the AFT is encouraging members to write letters to Congress and is helping to coordinate visits with congressional representatives at their local offices.
As a longstanding supporter of greater accountability, higher standards of learning and the underlying goals of NCLB, the AFT plans to work with Congress and other elected officials in pursuit of improvements to the law. “AFT will continue to be a resource in this process, and we look forward to working with Congress and the administration on bringing constructive changes to NCLB,” said AFT Legislative Director Tor Cowan.
The “NCLB -- Let’s Get it Right” section of AFT’s Web site, http://www.aft.org, links to numerous research reports on NCLB and provides concrete information within four separate areas of the law: AYP, staff quality, school improvement and funding. The site also expands on the existing flaws of NCLB and offers suggestions for improvement.
The first wave of AFT’s “NCLB -- Let’s Get it Right” print advertisements will appear in several national policy publications. Radio ads will broadcast in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Albuquerque and other cities. Spanish language versions of the ads will run in select markets.
The AFT represents 1.3 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; nurses and healthcare workers; and federal, state and local government employees.
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