Obama firma reforma de ley educativa que devuelve poder a los estados

Por: Agencia

El presidente Barack Obama firmó este jueves la nueva ley educativa que reemplazará a la denominada No Child Left Behind (Que ningún niño quede rezagado), y que cambiará la manera en que las escuelas rinden cuentas, las evaluaciones de los maestros y los programas para mejorar el desempeño de las escuelas más rezagadas.

La nueva ley, Every Student Succeeds (Que cada estudiante tenga éxito), le devuelve la autoridad a los estados y los distritos locales sobre el desempeño de las escuelas, tras 14 años de estricto control federal bajo No Child Left Behind.

"La predecesora de esta ley propició estándares altos, que se definieran responsabilidades, que se ayudara a cerrar la brecha académica así como asegurar que cada estudiante no solo aprendiera ‘algo’", mencionó Obama como parte de su mensaje previo a plasmar su firma en la nueva regulación.

"Pero en la práctica, (No Child Left Behind) usualmente se quedaba corta. No siempre consideraba las necesidades específicas de cada comunidad, condujo a demasiado tiempo para pruebas en el salón de clases, a menudo forzaba a las escuelas y a los distritos a reformas que no siempre producían los resultados que queríamos ver", agregó.

No Child Left Behind es la principal ley de ayuda a los estudiantes en desventaja en las escuelas públicas, y cuando fue aprobada en 2002, bajo la administración de George W. Bush, estableció nuevos estándares para los estudiantes, profesores y escuelas, e incrementó el dinero destinado a la educación para cumplir con las nuevas obligaciones.

Pero durante años cientos de directores escolares, maestros y padres se quejaron de la cantidad de exámenes estandarizados innecesarios y redundantes que requería la ley, y que incentivaban a los maestros a enseñar sólo para poder aprobar las pruebas.

La nueva ley, sin embargo, mantiene una característica clave de No Child Left Behind: exámenes de lectura y matemáticas en todo el estado, de tercero a octavo grado, por mandato federal, así como una prueba semejante en la secundaria.   

Obama signs education reform bill 

President Obama on Thursday signed a sweeping rewrite of the controversial No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law.

Obama called the proposal “a Christmas miracle” during a signing ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

“This is an early Christmas present. After more than 10 years, members of Congress from both parties have come together to revise our national education law,” Obama said.

“A bipartisan bill signing right here," he joked. "We should do this more often.”

The president shared the stage with members of Congress who worked on the bill as well as outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Obama thanked the lawmakers who wrote the legislation, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.), all of whom were on stage with the president.

“People did not agree on everything at the outset, but they were listening to each other in a constructive way,” the president said. “I think it’s really a testament of the four leaders of their respective committees that we set that kind of tone.”

The proposal, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 85-12, following an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote last week in the House.

The legislation reduces the federal government's control over the nation’s public schools by transferring decision-making power back to state and local governments in areas such as school performance and accountability.

While it keeps annual reading and math testing requirements for grades three through eight, high school students would only have to undergo the testing once. It also allows local jurisdictions more influence over setting goals, crafting school ratings and creating remedial solutions for struggling schools.

“This is the biggest rewrite of our education laws in 25 years,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday. “This shows what we can do when both parties work together.”

The bipartisan No Child Left Behind measure became law in 2002, setting stringent testing requirements designed to ensure proficiency in reading and math.

But the law was eventually met with strong backlash by state and local authorities that found the standards unworkable. Officials in both parties found the punishments for underperforming schools too harsh, including the threat of closures.

Obama said the goals of the NCLB “were the right ones” but “in practice, it often fell short.”

The president said the old law bogged down classroom time with standardized testing, forced “cookie-cutter reforms” on local communities and did not produce the kinds of educational gains leaders wanted to see.

He said the new law will build on the momentum from the NCLB and "gets rid of the stuff that doesn't work."

Republicans backed the new law because it transferred power away from the federal government. Democrats backed the measure after securing assurances that disadvantaged students would be guaranteed access to a high quality education across school districts.

“We have a great bill,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “It’s very good for our children. It’s about making schools a place where children can learn, teachers can teach, parents can participate.”

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

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