A bipartisan compromise emerged from the divided U.S. Capitol last week that might finally improve the George W. Bush-era education law, No Child Left Behind.
While the goal of NCLB was to push student achievement higher, there was a backlash against it. Unpopular features were requirements that schools verify their students’ academic progress by standardized testing and designating some schools as failing.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., was a key negotiator of the bill with Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and the House. Testing remains in the final agreement for math and reading in third and eighth grades and one test in high school, but states are given more leeway.
The compromise still requires states to intervene with proven programs in schools that have test scores in the lowest 5 percent, where the achievement gap is widest, and in high schools that graduate less than 67 percent of students.
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Murray, a former preschool teacher, pushed to include competitive grants helping states expand preschool opportunities for low-income kids.
The agreement reached by House and Senate conferees goes to a House floor vote by Dec. 2. Few compromises make everyone happy, but Murray gets credit for finding a way — again — to get something done in Washington, D.C.
WARM COATS FOR TUMWATER KIDS
Credit Tumwater firefighters last week for raising $11,000 and supplying 359 new coats to students at Michael T. Simmons Elementary School.
The effort by IAFF Local 2409 was actually part of a national effort that many firefighters participate in. The union has helped kids at other local schools in past years.
It’s always heartening when people step up to meet a need in our communities. This gesture directly helps the roughly two in five kids at Michael T. Simmons who qualify for free or reduced lunches.
GRANT TO HELP FIGHT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The Family Support Center of South Sound has received a $449,913 grant from the federal government to improve its programs for those victimized by domestic violence.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women administers the grants, which went to 44 organizations across the country. The Olympia center was the lone recipient in Washington.
The funds are meant to improve collaboration between criminal justice agencies and providers of services to victims of crime. Coordination between civilian and military agencies is a specific focus of the grant, and a new outreach coordinator will work to help Spanish-speaking victims of violence, said Schelli Slaughter, executive director for the agency.
The funds also encourage an ongoing collaboration among the center, the county sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices, and the county clerk.