Changes needed in federal education law
The Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times:
Just over five years ago, Congress approved a broad expansion of the federal government's role in education by passing the No Child Left Behind Act.
The landmark legislation, which made it through the Senate and House with overwhelming majorities, aims to bring all students up to grade level in reading and math skills by 2014 through mandatory testing and penalties for failing to meet objectives.
But the future of the law is in doubt. Experience has brought with it growing doubts about the wide-ranging impact of the law, which critics say forces schools to focus too narrowly on the tested subjects to show progress through improved test scores. As a result, other subjects and activities are shortchanged. With compliance tied to federal dollars, the law has given Washington more leverage over local school districts.
States have rebelled. Connecticut is suing the federal government for lack of financial support to implement the law. Testing requirements for students with limited English skills are being challenged in Virginia and Arizona. Utah is questioning the rule requiring teachers to have a degree in the subjects they teach, a rule that hurts small districts with few teachers asked to handle different subjects.
The law will probably be reauthorized, but the renewal has to take into consideration the complaints and provide more flexibility for states and school districts.
Gonzales has plenty
of reasons to resign
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has a wealth of reasons to resign.
He embarrassed his Justice Department by firing well-qualified U.S. attorneys in questionable circumstances. Two aides have already resigned, one
talking about exercising the Fifth Amendment.
Even if it turns out there was no taint of illegality anywhere in the efforts to influence the attorneys' removal, the firings were so arbitrary and political as to amount to an abuse of power.
It's no wonder Republican senators gave him little support at a hearing last week or in the talk shows. On "Fox News Sunday," the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, said "No doubt, it is bad for the Department of Justice."
Several GOP senators have suggested Gonzales can't be effective. Who could be after failing to recall answers to 71 congressional questions?
Given President Bush's tendency to put loyalty ahead of the national interest, Gonzales may have the one excuse he needs to stay. "The decider" could keep Gonzales exercising a capacity for inattention, misjudgment and mismanagement reminiscent of the mishandled Hurricane Katrina response. U.S. justice deserves much better.Have any thoughts about this column? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters should be no more than 200 words and are subject to approval by the publisher. Letters may be edited for style and space requirements. Please sign your name and provide an address and a daytime telephone number. Address letters for publication to: Letters to the Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post, P.O. Box 603, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-0603. The fax number is 770-339-8081.