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Bill gives local schools more flexibility

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) have introduced bipartisan legislation to bring needed reforms to the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) education bill. The legislation, S. 1913, the No Child Left Behind Enhancement Act, comes after Crapo's and Lincoln's offices have consulted with education leaders, school board members and interested citizens from their respective states on what kind of reform is needed for NCLB to work better.

"The NCLB legislation has brought improvements in student performance, but at the same time there have been unintended problems created by the legislation," Crapo noted. "Idaho educators, parents and administrators told me that many of the provisions in the original legislation didn't account for specific challenges faced by states like ours. That is why it is necessary to make revisions that will give Idaho and other states more flexibility to use additional methods to gauge student progress, that set up more rational policies for tutoring and other supplemental services, that will make it easier for students with disabilities or language difficulties to be fairly tested and assessed, and that ensure schools have the special education teachers they need to help their students. We all want our children to receive the best education possible, and I will continue to push for reasonable, realistic improvements that will benefit Idaho's students as well as many others throughout the nation."

"While we all support the intent of No Child Left Behind, we also need to look at ways to better address the needs of our schools and to ensure that we provide our children with the knowledge and training they will require for the future," Lincoln said. "During my educational tour, I had the opportunity to hear from teachers, administrators, parents, and students about what aspects of the policy work and what changes are needed as we move toward reauthorization. The bill Senator Crapo and I have introduced would implement many of the recommendations we have heard from our constituents and would give schools the flexibility and the tools they need to help students succeed while maintaining accountability measures."

Crapo noted with NCLB up for reauthorization this year, a bipartisan bill is the best way to find agreement on reforms in a divided Senate. The new bill is similar to one Crapo introduced last January, but now addresses special needs areas more specifically. The bill is supported by numerous Idaho teachers, administrator, and school organizations.

Among the new provisions in the bill is language allowing flexibility in hiring special education teachers. Many school districts report a shortage. The bill also gives local school districts more input into the selection of supplemental service providers, who can provide tutoring assistance to children in the district. Currently, districts have little or no say in determining the qualifications of those providers.

The bill will be referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for consideration. No hearing date has yet been set.