Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Cliff Dodson announced at the last board meeting that he was going to remind Congressman Heath Shuler about some major issues his school district is having with No Child Left Behind. NCLB, as you surely know, is up for re-authorization, and Dodson expects this will become a top issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

 Dodson has two primary concerns. One is that his schools serve a large ESL population. The district services over 25,000 students, and in six years, the ESL population has grown from 674 to 1547. Forty different languages are spoken by BCS students.

 Another issue is that Asheville is a regional medical center. BCS must therefore teach a disproportionate number of children with disabilities who have moved to the area for special services.

 Dodson does not like the all-or-nothing approach where a school will be shamed in the newspapers for not meeting standards because it experienced a large influx of ESL or disabled students. He thinks NCLB would be a more effective diagnostic if it measured growth instead of achievement.