Feds, State Split on Education

1 decade 8 months 2 weeks ago Tuesday, September 04 2007 Sep 4, 2007 Tuesday, September 04, 2007 8:30:00 PM CDT September 04, 2007 in News
The U.S. Department of Education and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are not seeing eye to eye.  The Department is telling Missouri to change it's ways of doing business, or risk losing federal funding dollars.

"Missouri being the show-me-state is sort of giving the finger to the Federal Government deciding they're not going to implement it or that the feds aren't serious," Phyllis McClure, a consultant for Education Trust said.

But Missouri stands by its ways of doing things. 

"No Child Left Behind basically has an all or nothing standard," Becky Kemna, from the Missouri Department of Education said.

Kemna argues in favor of flexibility for Missouri schools and allowing independence.  But Consultant McClure points out that's a violation of the law and accountability of all districts is a must.

"The law requires that schools be identified as making adequate yearly progress but that this applies to districts also, and the state ignored the requirement for districts. Just totally ignored it," McClure said.

Field Elementary in Columbia has been struggling. But the principal says it takes time and creativity to improve.

"We're ready to think outside the box, and do some of those things that are maybe a little bit different from what has been tried in the past. And as long as it yields positive results for kids then that's what we want to do," Carroll Garman, Principal of Garman Field Elementary, said.

Kemna also argues that while Missouri may not be following all the proper procedures under the act, that doesn't mean the state lacks in quality education.

"I can attest to that in my experience in working in other states and being a part of the accountability over the past several years that what we have in Missouri through the Missouri school improvement plan is more rigorous and is a better way of identifying districts that are not performing well than the way we're required to to identify districts through the no child left behind," she said.

"The state simply hasn't paid attention to details, and there's no excuse for that," Kemna added.

The U.S. Government is now asking Missouri to review the status of every school and district in the state that has failed to meet scoring targets on standardized tests for more than two years in a row in about 200 schools.

The Missouri Department of Education must submit a report to the Federal Government next week showing what changes it has made and its progress on the other violations.

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