Another Dem that gets it! From USA Today:
Get rid of the law; improve teacher pay, preschool programs.
By Bill Richardson
I have a one-point plan for No Child Left Behind: Scrap it.
NCLB has failed. It has failed our schools, it has failed our teachers and it has failed our children.
The Bush administration claims victories, but upon closer scrutiny it becomes clear that the White House is simply dressing up ugly data with fancy political spin. Far from leaving no child behind, President Bush seems to have left reality behind.
Just look at the facts. The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows a slight narrowing of the racial achievement gap over the past three years. This narrowing, however, is due to a decline in overall reading scores, not to improvements in minority student performance.
This is not progress.
Review the figures, and you will see that our schools are not failing NCLB; the program is failing our schools. In some grades, reading and math scores have actually declined for Hispanics, African-Americans and others. The current pass-fail rating system is worse than meaningless — it's counter-productive. If a school needs help, we should help that school. We shouldn't punish it, as NCLB mandates.
We need to move beyond the empty rhetoric of No Child Left Behind. We must provide our public schools with what the National Education Association refers to as the three R's — Responsibility, Respect and Resources.
The key to this improvement is respecting teachers. I signed a law in New Mexico that pays teachers a professional salary. As president, I will fight for national average starting pay for teachers of at least $40,000 a year.
Teacher salaries are just the beginning. Quality pre-K programs allow children to show up in first grade ready to learn. These programs must be available to all children.
Finally, we need strong academic standards aligned with the needs of today's workforce. America's schools were designed for the 20th century economy — this is no longer sufficient. Our children need to graduate ready to engage with the New Economy, not the old one.
True education reform requires more than a set of unfunded mandates and a list of failing schools. It requires a vision for success, the state and federal funding to match, and the experience to bring real reform to America's failing schools.
Bill Richardson is the governor of New Mexico. He is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for president.