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Reauthorizing NCLB: New Recommendations from the Leaders of The Campaign for Educational Equity

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Published: 9/5/2007 3:25:00 PM

Rebell and Wolff address eight broad areas for change; ideas circulated to Congress

New York, NY - Michael A. Rebell, Director of The Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College Columbia University, and his associate, Jessica R. Wolff, have released a summary of a far-reaching set of recommendations for changing the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which is up for Congressional reauthorization this year.

The summary can be viewed at:

http://www.tc.columbia.edu/i/a/document/5562_SummaryNCLBRecommendations.pdf

Drawn from a forthcoming book by Rebell and Wolff titled Moving Every Child Ahead: From NCLB Hype to Meaningful Educational Opportunity, the summary paper has been sent to all members of Congress who serve on education- related committees, which are currently circulating new drafts of the NCLB law, and to the campaign staffs of several declared candidates in the 2008 presidential election.

The Moving Every Child Ahead summary credits NCLB with reinvigorating America's egalitarian heritage and the vision of equal educational opportunity set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1954 decision in Brown versus Board of Education. However, it calls the law in its current form "riddled with political hype" and takes it to task for failing to ensure the presence of highly qualified teachers in classrooms; setting performance targets for schools and students that are not only untenable but penalize those most in need of help; and failure to provide the resources necessary for schools to improve.

The recommendations by Rebell and Wolff are drawn from a major symposium held in November 2006 by The Campaign which marshaled a range of new data about the effectiveness of NCLB in meeting its stated goals. Those findings can be viewed at http://www.tc.edu/centers/EquitySymposium/symposium06/resource.asp.

The recommendations – which are solely the opinions of Rebell and Wolff – cover eight broad areas:

• Meaningful educational opportunity, which focuses on ensuring the supports necessary to boost academic performance rather than on outcomes targets; • Effective teachers • Adequate funding • Challenging standards • Valid assessments • Solid progress requirements • Local capacity and school improvement • A new federal-state partnership
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Michael A. Rebell is Executive Director of the Campaign for Educational Equity and Professor of Law and Educational Practice at Teachers College. Previously, Mr. Rebell co-founded and served as Executive Director of The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), which won a major constitutional ruling on behalf of New York City public schools. Mr. Rebell is one of the nation's foremost authorities on the education adequacy movement in the United States and has pioneered the legal theory and strategy of educational adequacy. In the last 15 years, this legal strategy has proven successful in almost 75% of the cases challenging a state's failure to provide students with a sound, basic education. Mr. Rebell has also litigated numerous class-action lawsuits especially on behalf of students with disabilities, including the landmark New York State case, Jose P. v. Mills. He has written two books (Equity and Education and Education Policymaking and the Courts) and several dozen articles on a wide range of education issues, including educational equity, education finance, testing, rights of disabled students and dropout prevention. Mr. Rebell is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.

Jessica Wolff is the Policy Director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University. Part of the leadership team that develops the goals, strategies, platforms, and programs of the Equity Campaign, she has primary responsibility for developing and directing the implementation of key research, policy, advocacy, public engagement, and demonstration projects and programs. A longtime advocate for improving educational opportunities for New York City students, Ms. Wolff continues to work closely with the school-funding advocacy group, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), where she was director of policy development from 2000-2005. Prior to CFE, she wrote widely on public school issues for the Public Education Association, as director of program outreach. In addition, from 1996 until 2004, Ms. Wolff wrote a monthly column on public education policy and practice for the award-winning online news journal Gotham Gazette. She has two children in the New York City public schools.