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Knowles sound-bite claims unsound

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tony Knowles says the No Child Left Behind Act is federal intrusion into Alaska's schools that's underfunded. He says Alaska should return to the days of his Quality Schools Initiative and scrap NCLB.

Under the Quality Schools Initiative, Alaska's Department of Education knew which school districts desperately needed to improve, but they were powerless to do anything about it. Under NCLB, educators don't have their hands tied behind their backs anymore, and it's making a positive difference. Because of NCLB, many more of Alaska's students are proficient at reading, writing and math this year than last, and the achievement gap narrowed significantly. Yet, Tony wants to scrap the law that brought these and many other improvements.

Under NCLB, Alaska received 29 percent more federal education funding. Some districts' federal funding doubled. Alaska, not the federal government, creates student tests and procedures, defines standards of student proficiency, defines "highly qualified teacher," and is in charge of a host of other plans. We decided, not the federal government. Look it up for yourself at www.nclb.gov.

Tony also takes credit for Denali KidCare - the program that provides health insurance to low-income children. In 1997, the federal government created the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), expanding Medicaid to give all states federal money to cover more poor children. In Alaska, the SCHIP program is known as Denali KidCare. Catchy name for a federal program that Tony can't take credit for.

Tony says he supports "full, mandatory funding" for veterans' health care. Catchy sound bite. But the truth is that Tony would have voted for a plan to fund veterans' health care through a formula. When you actually run the numbers through that formula, though, veterans would have gotten less money for health care than Congress actually appropriated. Plus, Congress would have been barred from responding flexibly to the changing needs of veterans.

Reject Tony Knowles' "sound bite politics." Research his claims and promises before Nov. 2.

Karen McCarthy

Juneau



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