More than 50 GOP members of the House and Senate -- including the House's second-ranking Republican -- will introduce legislation today that could severely undercut President Bush's signature domestic achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act, by allowing states to opt out of its testing mandates.It does not surprise me that the Republicans are taking some heat from their constituency over "No Child". I live in a red state, and of all the people I've ever heard talking about "No Child Left Behind", I can't remember a single one that was saying anything positive about it. And I have talked to college students majoring in education and current teacher at the elementary school. It's all about testing and little about actual learning, combined with extra requirements for the teachers that seem to disadvantage the veteran teacher, or at least that is the impression I've gotten from the complaints I've heard.
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Some Republicans said yesterday that a backlash against the law was inevitable. Many voters in affluent suburban and exurban districts -- GOP strongholds -- think their schools have been adversely affected by the law. Once-innovative public schools have increasingly become captive to federal testing mandates, jettisoning education programs not covered by those tests, siphoning funds from programs for the talented and gifted, and discouraging creativity, critics say.
However, the most telling statement to me in the whole article is this:
"Republicans voted for No Child Left Behind holding their noses," said Michael J. Petrilli, an Education Department official during Bush's first term who is now a critic of the law. "But now with the president so politically weak, conservatives can vote their conscience."It seems to me that there is something wrong with our political system if the elected officials don't feel that they can vote their conscience all the time. I thought that was why they were elected, to represent the need of their constituents, not just to pull the party line. But then again, I've always been too idealistic, I guess.