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Old 02-25-2004, 03:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: in the backwoods
media bias?

I can't take credit for finding this. It was posted on MSN Slate, but I thought ya'll'd be amused by it.

Same meeting being covered by the New York Times and the Salt Lake Tribune. Federal Dept. of Education personnel came to Utah to explain new federal testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Very different perspectives. Links below, text of articles below that.



Salt Lake City newspaper article

New York Times article

Quote:
No Child Left Behind comes into focusNo Child Left Behind comes into focus





By Ronnie Lynn
The Salt Lake Tribune

KEARNS -- Parents and teachers entered the Kearns High School auditorium Tuesday thinking No Child Left Behind places unrealistic expectations on schools to increase achievement of even the most challenging students.
Many left thinking state education officials are making the federal law more onerous than it needs to be.
"We think maybe the state has had problems interpreting the law," said Jane McClure, principal of Oquirrh Elementary School in West Jordan, after listening to a federal official describe the law's goals and directives.
McClure was among 50 teachers, parents, administrators and state lawmakers who gathered to learn more about the impact of the 2001 law and share their concerns with Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Ken Meyer. U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, hosted the meeting.
It was Meyer's second trip to Utah in as many weeks to discuss No Child Left Behind with Utahns concerned about the law's expense, the system of judging school quality and intrusion into a domain traditionally left to states.
Julie Lorentzon, an assistant principal in Granite School District, grilled Meyer on several issues that educators across the country have complained about since the law's inception: the accountability system that designates a school as "needing improvement" if it misses just one of 40 annual goals, the requirement that schools test 95 percent of their students in reading and math annually, and the expectation that English learners and students with disabilities read and do math on grade level.
Meyer reiterated the department's assertion that the law provides states ample flexibility to implement the law, but acknowledged some provisions need to be tweaked.
He said that Education Secretary Rod Paige realizes that schools will need help meeting the expectation that students with disabilities and English learners perform at the same level as their peers.
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"He wants to stretch the limit of this law," Meyer said. "He is very clear that he's going to stretch it to the breaking point to deal with some of these issues."
Afterwards, some parents and minority advocates said they didn't want things to change too much. The law forces schools to confront weaknesses, said Karen Duffy, a University of Utah researcher who studies education issues for American Indians.
American Indians have long lagged behind their classmates, she said, and the school system has failed to solve the problem.
"This law is about the only hope they have," she said.
No Child Left Behind requires public schools to meet annual benchmarks toward 100 percent proficiency in reading and math among four key demographic groups: ethnic groups, English learners, students with disabilities, and those who live in poverty. High-poverty schools that miss their targets for two consecutive years face sanctions such as paying for students to transfer to better-performing schools.
This year, more than 200 Utah schools missed their goal in at least one of 40 criteria required to make "adequate yearly progress."
At one point, state lawmakers considered opting out of the law altogether and forfeiting $106 million the federal government provides for Utah schools. Last week, the Utah House overwhelmingly approved a scaled-back version of Rep. Margaret Dayton's House Bill 43, which maintains the federal funding but prohibits schools and districts from using state and local money to carry out the No Child Left Behind mandates.
The Senate has yet to consider the bill.
A dozen states have introduced non-binding resolutions or legislation encouraging changes to the law. Arizona and New Mexico have also launched measures to opt out of the law altogether and forfeit the federal money that goes along with it.
rlynn@sltrib.com





Quote:
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Bush Education Officials Find New Law a Tough Sell
By SAM DILLON

Published: February 22, 2004


ALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 20 — It was 8 p.m., and Ken Meyer was smiling gamely from a gloomy high school stage at an audience of disgruntled teachers and parents to whom he had been introduced as "a bigwig from Washington," come to Utah to explain President Bush's centerpiece education law.

A former math teacher was at a microphone, arguing that it would cost $1 billion for the state to carry out the law's requirements, while the federal government gives Utah only about $100 million.

"That's like sending a child for $10 worth of groceries and giving him just $1 to buy them," the former teacher said.

"Let me correct that," Mr. Meyer interrupted wearily, wading in as if with a fire extinguisher, spraying official statistics on behalf of the Department of Education, where he is a deputy assistant secretary. "Believe me, I've traveled to 40 states to talk about this law, and I've done the math. It's very well funded."

As he campaigns for re-election, President Bush hopes to capitalize on the law, known as No Child Left Behind, as one of the pillars of his domestic agenda. But the Democratic presidential candidates have made it a frequent target of criticism and ridicule. And things are not going that well even in this, one of the most Republican of states.

Not only the law's financing, but provisions that expand standardized testing to raise achievement and that label schools as underperforming when even small groups of students miss proficiency targets have stirred discontent nationwide among educators and local politicians. So Mr. Meyer's job is to barnstorm the country, part good-will diplomat, part flak-catcher, calming emotions and clarifying misunderstandings.

He is one of many Bush administration officials traveling to explain the 700-page law. Since Feb. 8, at least 10 other department and White House officials have spoken in nine states, although Susan Aspey, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the pace of travel had been consistent for the last year.

"I've been in some, I don't want to say hostile, but very contentious environments" in recent months, Mr. Meyer said. "Places where I wondered whether I'd get out of there with my skin intact. This law is largely misunderstood by the public because of its enormity, so people get emotional about it, and you've got pent-up frustrations."

Mr. Meyer's trip this week was the second Bush administration mission in two weeks to Utah. A five-person delegation this month defended the law to lawmakers, but the Republican-controlled Utah House nevertheless voted 64 to 8 on Feb. 10 not to comply with any provisions not fully financed by federal money. That measure now awaits Senate action.

Senator Dave Gladwell, a Republican who is the Utah bill's Senate sponsor, said many of his colleagues felt ambivalent about the measure.

"We don't want to embarrass President Bush or his administration, and yet we're kind of sensitive to our state sovereignty," he said.

Gov. Olene S. Walker, a Republican, said in an interview that she expected "heated discussion" of the bill in the Senate. She declined to say whether she would sign it if approved.

The Feb. 10 vote by the Utah House was the strongest action by any state legislature to date, but more than a dozen other states have passed or introduced laws or resolutions challenging the federal law or commissioning studies of the costs of carrying it out.

Last month, the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution, 98 to 1, urging Congress to exempt Virginia from the law. That vote came after Rod Paige, the education secretary, and other administration officials met with Virginia lawmakers, said James H. Dillard II, chairman of the House Education Committee.

"Six of us met with Paige," Mr. Dillard, a Republican, said. "He looked us in the eye and said, `It's fully funded.' We looked him back in the eye and said, `We don't think so.' "

"We got platitudes and stonewalls, but no corrective action," he said.

Secretary Paige took action on one part of the law on Thursday, announcing that test scores of recent immigrants who did not speak English would no longer be considered in determining whether a school was meeting annual targets for academic progress.


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Bush Education Officials Find New Law a Tough Sell

Published: February 22, 2004

(Page 2 of 2)

That should mean that fewer schools will be judged as "needing improvement," a label that requires schools to carry out costly remedial measures and can result in removal of their staffs. Still, experts predict that within a few years a majority of the country's 90,000 schools will receive the label.

Last fall, 245 of Utah's 810 schools were put on a watch list because they had failed to make "adequate yearly progress," said Steven O. Laing, Utah's state school superintendent. Many had been considered excellent schools, but ended up on the list because one small group of students — fifth-grade special education students, for instance — had failed to reach academic targets.

In a meeting with Mr. Meyer on Tuesday, several Republican senators asked questions reflecting concerns about schools put on watch lists in their districts. Mr. Meyer described the law as a tool that helps states to measure school performance, while giving them the flexibility to set their own proficiency benchmarks.

"It's a pretty dynamic business management model," Mr. Meyer said.

After the meeting, Senator Bill Wright, a Republican who is chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said Mr. Meyer had done "a great job."

"But we still have a difference of opinion about how N.C.L.B. would affect Utah," Senator Wright said.

An hour later, Mr. Meyer met with school superintendents. He heard Steven C. Norton, superintendent of a rural district in northern Utah, report that parents were upset that two schools had been put on a watch list because the law required that 95 percent of students take the standardized tests and one student less than that qualifying threshold had shown up on testing day.

"These are die-hard conservative Republicans, and they feel that this is like crying wolf when they see their school labeled for frivolous reasons," Mr. Norton said in an interview that he had told Mr. Meyer.

That evening, addressing 50 educators and parents at Kearns High School in a Salt Lake City suburb, Mr. Meyer said that American schools needed to improve so that workers could compete for jobs in a globalized economy. The law, he said, empowered educators by identifying students who needed special help and resources.

Russel Sias, a retired engineer and registered Republican whose daughter is a middle school teacher, said to a reporter at the meeting: "I feel like we're hearing the best vacuum cleaner salesman in the world. They're going to label every school in the country as failing, and they call it empowerment?"

Rebecca Christensen, who earns $26,000 a year teaching sixth grade, told the crowd of the frustrations of trying to raise test scores at a school where student turnover was high and parental involvement low.

"How many of the congressmen who wrote this law have ever been in a classroom?" she asked.

Mr. Meyer listened, and then congratulated Ms. Christensen and the other teachers in the audience for working in education under difficult conditions.

"You're all on the front line, and I applaud you," he said.

Then he added, "I like to quote the president: `There's not a school in this country that doesn't need improvement.' "


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I know this topic has ben hashed and rehashed, but I just found this striking enough to post it. I guess all media are not biased in the same way.
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Old 02-25-2004, 03:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Looks like the Times is biased toward slightly better writing. But I do take your point.
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Old 02-25-2004, 08:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Bowling Green, KY
What they never say in the media is how creepy it is that the government is decided what your children learn and when the learn it.

Fucking Nazis.
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