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Keeping Score on the Administration

Keeping Score on the AdministrationEarlier this month President Bush went on the road to mark the second anniversary of his signing of the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush visited schools where the administration had deemed the law a success to congratulate students, staff and parents on improving test scores. And yet, the Washington Post story chronicling Bush’s tour ran with the following headline, “Bush’s Education Plan Gets Mixed Grades on Anniversary.”
The results of No Child Left Behind are a source of contention among education advocates. One of the key issues for debate is the law’s funding. In this edition, Reginald Weaver, president of the National Education Association (NEA), talks about the problems he sees with the law’s funding as well as other aspects of the law. Weaver sat down with Black Issues to discuss NEA’s platform. The association has a long history of fighting for the rights of educators across the nation, including its 2.7 million members, a group consisting of elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and college students preparing to teach. Funding and fixing No Child Left Behind is just one of the association’s current goals.
Another priority on NEA’s agenda is providing “Great Public Schools for Every Child.” Weaver speaks passionately about the issue of vouchers and its impact on quality public education, arguing that those who are succumbing to the voucher argument do so because of political reasons, not educational ones. He contends that vouchers are measures that help only a few students and not the majority of those in need. These are just two of the hurdles facing NEA, an organization that in today’s shifting political, fiscal and demographic environment has to consistently re-evaluate and respond to its charge.
Educating those in need is also the topic of discussion in the second feature story in this edition. In “A Question of Merit,” writer Dee Ann Finken reports on the controversy surrounding merit-based scholarships. While these programs continue to gain popularity in a number of states, some question whether the money spent on merit-based scholarships should be awarded to those who can afford to go to college. “We don’t give food stamps to kids of rich families,” says Dr. Donald E. Heller, an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University. “(The) same should be true of college scholarships.”
This edition of Black Issues makes it clear that as we start a new year, education issues are heating up all over the nation, even as many of us face below normal temperatures in many regions. And with the second half of the 108th Congress just under way, and the Higher Education Act reauthorization in the works, things are only likely to keep rising. Education is our beat. And we owe it to our readers to stay on top of it — be it K-12 or higher education. Stay tuned. 

Robin V. Smiles
Associate Editor

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