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No Educator Left Behind: Non-Education Issues

No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.

Question:

Why does the No Child Left Behind Act have provisions that do not relate to student learning? Those provisions include the requirement that schools release names and addresses of students to the military, and the requirement that local school districts report to the state policies that would prevent them from following federal guidance on providing "constitutionally protected" prayer.

U.S. Department of Education:

Congress has the right and power to include items of national concern and import in federal legislation. Congress is using the $26 billion in federal funds authorized for schools under the No Child Left Behind Act as an incentive to leverage change at the local level.

This question refers to these sections of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act:

NCLB funds are denied to any school district that has a policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools. Guidance on what is considered constitutionally protected prayer under the law is available.

The Secretary of Education must consult with the Department of Justice in preparing the guidance. In order to receive funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), each local education agency (LEA) must certify in writing each year to the state education agency (SEA) that it has no policy that prevents constitutionally protected prayer in the public schools as detailed in the Secretary's guidance.

The Secretary is directed to bring enforcement action against any LEA that fails to submit the required certification or that provides its certification in bad faith. (Current law directs the secretary to withhold ESEA funds from any SEA or LEA that a federal court determines has willfully violated a federal court order to refrain from violating the constitutional right of any student with respect to prayer in the public schools.)

Districts receiving NCLB funds also are required to provide armed forces recruiters the same access to high school students as college and job recruiters provide.

For more information on military recruiters access to high school student records, see guidance regarding military recruiters.

See Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools for guidelines on constitutionally protected prayer.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.

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