By Kimberly Hefling
WASHINGTON — Minority lawmakers say House and Senate plans to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law fail to protect minority children, those with disabilities and children learning English.
The Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American congressional caucuses insisted in a letter that they want a strong federal role in ensuring all students meet targets for reading and math. They also want goals for graduation rates spelled out in the law and are seeking assurances that English learners will get a quality education.
They say they oppose changes that would diminish equal access to education for all students. The letter, sent to lawmakers on education committees, was dated Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press.
The 2002 education law required annual reading and math testing and sanctions for schools that don’t meet requirements. Critics say it is too rigid and led to “teaching to the test.”
A bipartisan Senate bill gives greater control to states and directs federal efforts toward improving the bottom 5 percent of schools. But civil and disability rights groups have opposed it, and many Republicans say it leaves too much control with the federal government. A House committee is updating the law in parts but has not considered some of the law’s more contentious issues.
In September, President Barack Obama said he would give waivers to states that met certain requirements to get around some of the law’s unpopular requirements.