Today, the executive directors of the Iowa Association of School Boards, the Iowa State Education Association, the School Administrators of Iowa, and the Iowa Department of Education sent a joint letter to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa offering a set of principles for revising the No Child Left Behind Act as Congress considers the reauthorization of the law.
The letter expresses concerns that “the law’s prescriptive federal mandates are heavy-handed and imbalanced,” and that its “one-size-fits-all approach to accountability and school improvement is ill-suited for many states,” including Iowa.
The letter, signed by Tom Downs of the Iowa Association of School Boards; Mary Jane Cobb of the Iowa State Education Association; Dan Smith of the School Administrators of Iowa; and Jason Glass of the Iowa Department of Education outlines principles on which they stand in agreement.
The principles include work to restore the appropriate balance of state and federal authority, a focus on closing achievement gaps and better serving students in poverty, and setting high standards while allowing states the flexibility to design accountability and assessment models that fit their individual state-specific contexts.
The letter continued: “Federal policy can serve an important and supportive role with states providing an equitable and high-quality education for students in poverty. Some progress has been made; however, only through focused and evidence-based approaches, tailored to meet each state’s individual context, can we hope to meet our goal: Providing an equal opportunity for all children to achieve the American dream, regardless of their economic conditions.”
The letter followed a meeting in Des Moines this week between the four executive directors and Sen. Grassley. Similar meetings are planned with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, as well as Iowa’s five U.S. representatives.
“We so appreciate and commend Sen. Grassley for his time and attention on this important matter, as well as his position that one size does not fit all with regard to No Child Left Behind,” Glass said. “We look forward to his leadership on this issue.”