Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 1, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

No Child Left Behind


  • State Representative Mark Anderson talks about his opposition to a bill to opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind program.
Guests:
  • Mark Anderson - State representative
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
No child left behind is a federal program that enacts standards-based education. Last week we had Representative David Schapira on Horizon to talk about his bill to opt out of no child left behind. That bill passed in the house today. Representative Mark Anderson opposes opting out. He supports the federal a-plus legislation congress is considering. Representative Anderson, good to have you back on the program. Should the state opt out of no child left behind?

Mark Anderson:
I don't think so. The main reason is simply this; $760 million that goes primarily to our poorest schools in the state for special programs that help these kids. To put that at risk in order to send a message to the federal government, to me, is not a good idea.

Ted Simons:
Last I heard it was $600 million, and you're saying $760 million, what happened?

Mark Anderson:
We're adding the Special Ed with that.

Ted Simons:
Taking in affect in 2010, does that give the state enough time?

Mark Anderson:
Well unfortunately, we have a $3 million deficit over the years 2008 and 2009. It could cost the state over $600 million, and means it's not really going anywhere this session.

Ted Simons:
What do you think is going to happen in the senate?

Mark Anderson:
It could be very interesting because Senator Johnson is opting out, regardless of the money factor. You could see some teeth come back into the bill, if you will. However, ultimately at the end of the day, I believe that leadership will prevail and cooler heads, and it will not pass.

Ted Simons:
If teeth wind up in the bill and it's passed, where is the money coming from?

Mark Anderson:
That's just it, Ted. We have this deficit that is really the worst that I've seen in 14 years in the legislature. And how we're going to resolve that is still up for consideration. To add another 700 million or so, even in 2010, is just not going to happen.

Ted Simons:
Do we know how much money Arizona would save if no child left behind were not factored into the equation?

Mark Anderson:
That's what the Schapira bill attempts to get at. It says we will do the study to find out. That's not a bad idea. However, I can tell you it would not be anywhere near the $700 million we're talking about. It could be 10 or 20 million, in that range.

Ted Simons:
You see a lot of these types of bills, and no one seems to be in favor of no child left behind. I can't find anyone that seems to like this thing. Opt-out bills have been proposed in the past. Why is this one moving along quickly?

Mark Anderson:
I don't know that it's moving along that quickly. I am surprised it's gotten as far as it has, because people are aware that we have this deficit. I think your point is that a lot of people are unhappy with no child left behind, and that's true. That's why I have a bill that is a memorial to congress to process the federal a-plus act, a form of opting out, in a sense. It's saying, we would like to continue to have the federal dollars, and we like the idea of accountability and standards, but we want to design those on the state level. We don't want to have to be micro-managed from Washington, D.C., in education policy.

Ted Simons:
What are you hearing as far as our congressional delegation is concerned, but just in general, out of Washington?

Mark Anderson:
Well, Senator Kyl is one of the sponsors of the bill, and I believe they have about 60 sponsors. I think it's on the radar screen. But as you know, we have a congress that right now Senator Kennedy is the education chairman in the senate. So he has a different idea of how to fix no child left behind. His idea is more money.

Ted Simons:
No child left behind, as we've talked about, seems to have, except for folks in different parts of the country, very few supporters. What is the major problem with this program?

Mark Anderson:
No child left behind started out as a very good concept. The concept is that everybody should be included in educational excellence, and that in order to achieve that, you need to have standards and accountability. It was actually a very good idea. The problem is you're trying to manage something from Washington, D.C. in 50 different states with 50 different education systems. That's where the kind of breakdown occurs where people don't feel they had a say in developing those systems. It results in outcomes that aren't as good. What people don't remember, there was a reason he got no child left behind in the first place, because the schools were graduating people who couldn't even read their own diploma. And there was a consensus in our country that said, enough is enough, we have to do something to have some accountability in education. We're not going to be competitive in the world anymore.

Ted Simons:
Does that mean that no child left behind is a success, fit woke up some states around the country?

Mark Anderson:
I think in that sense it has. And frankly, in terms of just pure academic outcomes, I think we've seen some gains through no child left behind. We have become more aware of where the gaps and problems are that need to be filled.

Ted Simons:
In terms of the law going on to the senate, the Schapira bill, it basically states that you lose the federal money if you can't make up the federal money, then we are not going to opt out.

Mark Anderson:
Correct.

Ted Simons:
What does this mean in real terms? It sounds to me like it's more of a message bill than anything else.

Mark Anderson:
It's become more of a message bill, because of the amendment that was adopted. We'll see if that changes in the senate. But ultimately, whether Arizona wants to send that message that we are opting out, regardless of the fact that we may not, to me that's probably not the right message.

Ted Simons:
All right, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Mark Anderson:
Happy to.

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