Bill Would Allow Utah to Opt Out of 'No Child Left Behind'

Bill Would Allow Utah to Opt Out of 'No Child Left Behind'

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Kim Johnson reporting Funding education always presents Utah lawmakers with a challenge. And this year, there's a controversial catch phrase to add to education priorities: "No child left behind."

Congress passed the bill in 2001. But Utah lawmakers say its problematic, and at least one of them wants Utah to opt out.

Representative Margaret Dayton plans to intoduce a very short bill that would free Utah's school districts from obligations to No Child Left Behind."

Rep. Margaret Dayton/(R) Utah County/Chair, State education committee: "It's a one sentence bill that takes us out of 2,000 pages of rules and regulations."

Dayton says lawmakers and educators need to give lengthy, thoughtful consideration to a very lengthy federal law.

Rep. Margaret Dayton: "Do we want this much federal intrusion in what has always been a state issue? There's nowhere in the constitution that justifies the federal government running our neighborhood schools."

Dayton concedes the state would lose tens of millions of federal dollars if Utah lawmakers pass her bill. But she says not participating in NCLB could end up saving the state money.

Rep. Margaret Dayton: "We have yet to find a state that has done detailed analysis of the money to implement No Child Left Behind, that doesn't end up finding it costs more to implement the bill than the money they get."

Other lawmakers say while No Child Left Behind is a noble idea, the bill is inflexible, impractical and a one size fits all approach to education.

For example, the NCLB bill would require every student in Utah to be reading at grade level in ten years. That includes students with special needs, and those for whom English is a second language.

Representative Kory Holdaway says that's an unattainable goal.

Rep. Kory Holdaway/ (R) Salt Lake County State Education Committee: "There was a study in Ohio last week that shows it's going to cost one and a half billion dollars just in remediation costs, in order to implement No Child Left Behind."

Holdaway says he's also concerned with unkknown future costs associated with No Child Left Behind.

He also has concerned with the bill's testing policies, and the standards of progress by which schools are judged.

This is an issue that's going to be getting a lot of debate by lawmakers in several states across the country. In fact, individual districts in the state of Vermont have already opted out of No Child Left Behind.

Representative Dayton will present her bill to the education committe next week.

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