Educators expect No Child Left Behind lawsuits
Associated Press
Nov. 2, 2004 12:00 AM
Andrea Almond

THERMAL, Calif. - The federal No Child Left Behind Act threatens costly penalties for schools deemed failing to meet academic standards. In response, some educators expect a series of lawsuits aimed at avoiding the sanctions.

Since President Bush signed the sweeping education reforms in 2002, the law has drawn criticism from educators debating its strict performance and test requirements. The act requires all students to be proficient in reading, writing and math by 2014.

Parents of children in some failing schools can demand transfers to better campuses. advertisement

Over the next four years, schools must offer tutoring services, administrators and teachers can be fired, states can take over districts, and federal funds can be withheld.

Coachella Valley Unified School District, which includes Oasis Elementary School, could be among the nation's first to challenge the law. The School Board is considering suing federal and state governments, claiming the district is being held to unreachable goals.

"Coachella is the tip of the iceberg," John Perez, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said, adding that the law "doesn't take into account things it needs to."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, students at more than 27,500 schools nationwide - almost 31 percent of all U.S. public schools - are failing at math and reading.

Last December, Reading School District in Pennsylvania sued over its low performance rating, arguing its Spanish-speaking students couldn't read the tests.

About two-thirds of the district's 16,000 students are Hispanic; 15 percent have limited English proficiency.

But, judges ruled that testing in a student's native language is not mandatory, only required "to the extent that it is practicable to do so."  


The district plans to appeal.

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