Four Denton school board members are in Washington, D.C., this week with school board leaders from across the nation urging members of Congress to protect education programs from looming budget cuts.
Jim Alexander, Barbara Burns, Glenna Harris and Charles Stafford are among more than 700 school board and state school board association members from across the country asking Congress to protect public education from massive budget cuts.
They are in the nation’s capital this week for the National School Boards Association’s 40th annual Federal Relations Network Conference, a three-day event that wraps up today.
Harris said she was planning to return to Denton on Monday night; the others are expected to meet with some members of Congress and their staffs today.
According to a media release the association issued Monday, attendees at the conference are advocating that Congress protect education programs from sequestration or automatic budget cuts that could take effect March 1. According to the association, federal cuts to public education for kindergarten through 12th grade would total more than $3 billion this fiscal year and continue over a 10-year period.
Stafford said funding public education is not about spending but that it’s an investment in the future economy.
Denton school board members say they intend to speak with congressional officials from Texas and their staffs today about how cuts to public education will impact programs such as Title I, special education and early childhood.
They said they also intend to discuss with those individuals the importance of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, which was due for a congressional update in 2007.
The Texas Education Agency reported last August that under the current structure for No Child Left Behind — by next year in the federal accountability system — passing standards require students to have a 100 percent passing rate on math and reading tests.
Denton school board members said that while students are improving in performance, it’s unrealistic to think all students will reach a 100 percent passing standard by 2014.
“We’re not against accountability at all, but we are against rules and regulations that falsely label schools as failing and schools as failures when our schools are doing wonderful jobs,” said Glenna Harris, board vice president.
Alexander said the primary purpose of No Child Left Behind was improving performance in school districts across the nation. The problem, he said, is that it’s a “punitive structure” that continued to be so as years went by. He said they’re particularly interested in seeing No Child Left Behind replaced with new legislation and reauthorized.
“It’s long overdue for change, and I think educators across the country are trying to get that accomplished,” Alexander said. “I don’t think anyone can expect, including the federal government, that any school can have all students passing every standard. It’s an unrealistic goal.”
Board members from Denton said attending the NSBA conference is also an opportunity to learn what’s happening at the national level in terms of education policy, to listen to discussions on school safety and to learn of issues impacting school districts across the state.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .