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Battle of Education Winners and Whiners

Paige blasts NEA plans to block No Child Left Behind Act

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Secretary of Education Rod Paige has angrily accused the National Education Association (NEA) of creating a "coalition of the whining" in response to the Association's recent proposal to block the No Child Left Behind Act in court.

"It is unfortunate that the NEA establishment is talking about ways to hinder the goal of true reform and greater educational achievement opportunities for our children. We've assembled a coalition of the willing to help the kids who need it most; the NEA wants to assemble a coalition of the whining to hold kids back," stated Paige in a department press release.

The NEA announced in June that they are preparing a law suit challenging the non-federally funded mandates imposed on states and school districts by the No Child Left Behind Act as contrary to the intent of Congress.

The non-funded mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act would have to be paid for by the states and local school districts, rather than the federal government. The General Accounting Office has estimated that states will be required to spend from $1.9 to $5.3 billion between 2002 and 2008 in order to implement the testing provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The NEA, however, contends the cost of the unfunded mandates to states could be much higher. "The GAO study does not include state funds that would be required to comply with school choice [public school transfer provisions], teacher and paraprofessional qualifications, or other provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act," said NEA General Counsel Robert Chanin, in a press statement.

"We intend to determine if it was the intent of Congress to impose unfunded mandates on states in enacting the No Child Left Behind Act," Weaver said. "We are consulting with several state and local governments who are affected by these unfunded mandates regarding possible participation in the lawsuit," added Chanin.

The No Child Left Behind Act, which passed with strong bipartisan support, is designed to close the educational achievement gap by requiring tested standards of achievement for both students and teachers in American public schools.

"The goal of No Child Left Behind is to help the children who need it most. We believe that every child counts, and are working in a historic partnership with the states, schools, parents and teachers across the country to raise standards and improve student achievement," stated Sec. Paige.

"Our teachers are the heroes in the classrooms, and they deserve the tools and opportunities No Child Left Behind offers.

"Taxpayers are making record federal investments in their schools. No Child Left Behind provides the highest spending per child ever -- funds that help supplement and boost state and local spending, ensuring that all children receive a world-class education. Considering K-12 education spending at all levels, taxpayers will provide nearly $500 billion for their schools this year -- certainly enough to achieve the goals of the law. No Child Left Behind will help ensure these dollars are invested wisely."

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