Opinion

Sen. Murkowski: Not all of public schools deserve 'failing' label





"Alaskans know that the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB, has shortcomings. One major fault is a one-size-fits-all accountability system on schools that are vastly different from one another. As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, I'm working to fix the law while still giving parents and communities solid information to help schools improve. Until that process is complete though, let's all be honest about how our schools are really doing. It's not as bleak as some media portray.

When students bring home their report cards, very few have gotten 100 percent on every assignment. Even fewer get a perfect score on their SATs. But we do not call those students "failures." Just as a parent wouldn't call a "C" an "F" or ground their kids for improving from a "D" to a "C," we need to give schools credit for what they are doing right as we focus on where they need to improve.

Why, then, do some apply the label "failing school" to schools that don't quite make Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, under NCLB? Either a school makes AYP or it is a School in Need of Improvement -- not a "failure." Labeling schools as failures when that's not true is unfair and harmful.

Soon, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development will announce which schools made AYP and which did not. When we discuss those results, we need to be precise. I challenge Alaska's media to report the data without using the phrase "failing school" unless it's really justified."

Get the Story:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski: Schools labeled as 'failing' too quickly (The Anchorage Daily News 8/11)