Bad News From Connecticut
Published: July 29, 2005  (must tregister to view original article)

The No Child Left Behind Act has been a burden for the school districts struggling with yearly tests that often show unpleasant results. But it's been working on the most critical level, improving students' performance and closing the gap between minority and white students. So Gov. Jodi Rell of Connecticut took the wrong road this week when she signed a bill that endorses a plan by the state attorney general to sue the federal government over some of the act's provisions.

Schools will clearly need more aid from the federal government if they are going to meet the high standards of No Child Left Behind over the long run. The trick is to press for that aid without undermining the good parts of the act. On that front, Connecticut is failing.

State leaders are focusing their protests on the requirement that schools test students every year between grades three and eight. Some in Connecticut claim that testing annually would be too frequent, and that the federal government has provided too little money to carry out the testing. Both arguments are dubious. No parent should have to wait two years to find out whether a marginal school is actually getting better or worse. And the federal dollars allotted for test development seem adequate. In addition, the cost figures being thrown around in Connecticut seem simply implausible.

Governor Rell signed the enabling legislation for the lawsuit, a spokesman said, because she is "interested in the outcome." This is not a parlor game. Connecticut has one of the worst achievement gaps and an abysmal history when it comes to educating poor and minority children. It is the last place that should be challenging the most important educational reform of the last half-century.