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On the edge

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, April 25, 2005
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The best in last week's editorials from college campuses around the nation

The slow progress of No Child Left Behind

LOS ANGELES - No Child Left Behind is apparently leaving a lot of children behind.

The academic growth students experience in a given school year has slowed since the law went into effect in 2002, according to a study conducted by the Northwest Evaluation Association.

The group, which develops tests for 1,500 school districts throughout the nation, reports that in order for all students to be academically proficient by 2014 - the goal of No Child Left Behind - students will have to make as much as three times the progress they are currently making.

The NEA studied student test performance in the fall, and then again in the spring, to see how much they actually learned. The group found that test scores did rise, but not as much as needed to meet the law's goal.

Plus, the group reported that teachers spend more time with students who need to "make it over the hurdle" than those who are far below or far above the proficiency mark, The New York Times reported.

Whatever the case, No Child Left Behind must be re-examined.

Teachers across the country are spending more time trying to get their students to pass tests than focusing on creative endeavors that allow students to think outside the box.

Those students who aren't necessarily the best test takers but are smart nonetheless are missing out on education.

What is possibly the most disturbing part of NCLB, however, is that the study also suggests that the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students could be growing. Bridging the gap is one of the central focuses of the law, yet minority students who scored the same as whites at the beginning of the school year ended up lagging behind later in the year.

In addition to the basics that schools have always taught, in today's increasingly competitive society, they also need to be teaching things such as behavioral habits and communication skills in order to shape students into responsible members of the population. But when schools are focused solely on test scores, they are unable to give students the kind of education they need and deserve.

- From University of Southern California's Daily Trojan

Nuclear option unfair to minorities

EUGENE, Ore. - Minorities. They built America, and America was built for them. There will always be unheard minority voices, not just in our nation at large but in our nation's government as well. As long as our country operates under a two-party system, there will be an unheard voice, and Republican Sen. Bill Frist would do well to remember this fact. As current Senate majority leader, Frist is heading the imminent movement toward the "nuclear option" of shutting down filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees.

It takes 60 votes to shut down the filibuster; Republicans hold only 55 seats in the Senate. If Frist has his way, Senate rules will change for judicial nominations so only 51 votes are necessary to move along a vote.

Stepping outside party lines for just a moment, the dangers of limiting a minority voice should be painstakingly obvious to all politicians. Even some fellow Republican Senators disagree with Frist's proposal, commenting that at some future point the tables will be turned, and it will be the Republican party relying on filibuster until judicial nominees leaning more toward the middle can be selected.

It is also significant that Frist is not asking to change the rule on all filibusters, just those related to approving justices. Of all the reasons to filibuster, it seems that the minority power to halt debate is most important when it comes to the Supreme Court. There are almost no circumstances under which a justice will leave the court; appointees last a lifetime. It hardly seems fair or democratic for the majority party, be it Republican or Democrat, to choose justices leaning so far from the middle that the minority party would wish to filibuster in the first place.

If you consider yourself a liberal, think about it this way: Without the ability to filibuster, current Senate Democrats will be powerless to prevent a conservative justice from being appointed to the Supreme Court, who could then sway the court into finding Roe v. Wade unconstitutional. A disappearance of the filibuster could easily result in a disappearance of the right to abortion.

If you consider yourself a conservative, think about it this way: Without the ability to filibuster, future Senate Republicans will be powerless to prevent a liberal justice, who could sway the court into legalizing gay marriage. Although stopping a filibuster may sound like a good idea for your party right now, a long-term consideration shows that making it difficult for the minority Senate group to filibuster is a bad idea all around. Maybe someone should tell that to Bill Frist.

- From The University of Oregon's Daily Emerald

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