Stamford Advocate - "Himes Raps No Child Left Behind"

News Article

Date: Sept. 16, 2008
Issues: Education

Stamford Advocate - "Himes Raps No Child Left Behind"

Fairfield County schools are unfairly evaluated as falling short of requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, triggering punitive funding cuts and counterproductive requirements that make it more difficult to improve test scores, said Jim Himes, the Democratic nominee for Congress.

Himes appeared Monday at The International School at Rogers Magnet to tout his education platform, including more funding to meet the requirements of the act, and greater local say in how to improve scores on the Connecticut Mastery Test, which determines compliance with the law.

"The law is well-intentioned because it focuses on education, but it must be reformed," Himes said.

Last week, district and state education officials released an analysis showing most Stamford schools failed to meet the goals set by the federal law on the CMTs, given to students in grades 3 through 8, and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, taken by 10th-graders.

Statewide, about 100 more schools failed to meet goals than a year earlier, according to the state Department of Education.

Himes' 4th District opponent, U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport, is co-sponsoring the No Child Left Behind Reform Act, which would move towards fully funding the act, and evaluate schools on indicators besides test scores, said Michael Sohn, Shays' campaign manager.

The bill calls for other reforms to make evaluation more fair, such as more help for students with lagging scores, including those learning English and special education students, Sohn said.

"Congressman Shays is for fully funding No Child Left Behind as well as making other improvements to the legislation," Sohn said. "He supports additional indicators for school performance while not watering down the focus on proficiency."

Himes, former chairman of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee, said despite improving CMT scores over the past two years, Rogers and other schools are required to pay for improvement measures, such as private tutors, out of their own budget.

"We want to hold schools to high standards but we don't want to be destructive of good schools making progress under the No Child Left Behind Act," Himes said. "I think that private tutors is a great thing, but the funding needs to be there."

Last year, Rogers, whose student body includes a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, fell just short of meeting the state's No Child Left Behind test score goals in reading, said Candy Yeager, president of the Rogers Parent Teachers Organization.

Yeager said if the school is required to fund additional instruction without federal assistance, the quality of education overall will diminish.

"We are not a failing school," she said. "We need to educate all the children in the school but it is difficult to fund that out of the budget."