"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bill Richardson Today on NCLB : SCRAP IT

Part of a big speech by Bill Richardson today outlining his education agenda. Read the rest here:

Thank you so much for being here today.

As we stand here today, our schools have again been stricken by tragedy. Our prayers go out to the students and parents of Cleveland, Ohio. Each senseless act of violence lessens us all. Every American loses a piece of his or her heart. Every American must again grieve. Every American feels a little less safe.

We must do everything possible to ensure that schools become safe havens.

I will and we must insist that national attention is given to preparedness for school safety at the K-12 level and in higher education as well. I will require all schools to develop safety protocols and policies to be used in an emergency.

And I renew my call for national instant background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows. We must keep guns out of the hands of the irresponsible -- criminals and the mentally ill.

I want to talk to you about how we can fix our education system ... because the fact is, it's broken. It's broken from top to bottom.

Too many kids lack access to pre-K ... not enough graduate high school.

Too many of our young people are unprepared for college ... not enough can afford to go.

Too many of our workers are falling behind the rest of the world ... not enough are getting the training they need to compete.

There have been too many promises ... and not enough leadership.

George Bush promised to be the education President. You know how far that promise got? About as far as his promise on inauguration day to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. About as far as his promise to take real action on global warming. About as far as his promise to be fiscally responsible.

Far from leaving no child behind, the Bush Administration seems to have left reality behind.

The President talks about an ownership society, then cuts funding for workforce training.

He talks about freedom, but his actions have left young college graduates shackled by debt.

The President talks about an America we can all believe in; then he delivers policies that benefit only a few.

Enough is enough.

The past seven years have been a dark period in our nation's history.

It's time we turn on the lights.

Education is the spark that lights minds. As we ignite schools across the country, we can kindle a great fire of learning that will light the way to the future.

We must begin with educating our young people, but we cannot stop there. Learning should not end at eighteen. And every American must have a part in the basic promise of our nation -- that we can make every tomorrow better than today.

That starts with building the best public school system in the world. Compromises will not do. We must skip the caution. Skip the half measures. What we need is bold change.

My Democratic opponents have been cautious in confronting George Bush on this issue. Just as they trusted George Bush on the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, they trusted him on No Child Left Behind. The result has been a travesty for our children.

Some say fix it, others say tweak it. Senator Hillary Clinton says reform it.

I also have two words for No Child Left Behind: Scrap It.

As a Governor I have seen first-hand the impact of this failed policy on our children. And although Senator Clinton and some of my other opponents voted for it, they should admit their error, and join my call for real change.

The key to a good education is not narrow tests or Washington wisdom. The key is a good teacher in every classroom.

We need to attract and retain the best and brightest for our nation's schools. We need to start treating teachers with the professional respect that they have earned.

When I am President, teachers will have a national average starting salary of $40,000. We will improve and expand teacher training ... and strengthen standards and accountability. We will increase the number of nationally-certified teachers.

I will provide bonuses and create a loan forgiveness program for teachers who choose to work in under-performing and high-poverty areas.

I also commit to you that I will hire 100,000 new math and science teachers. It's a simple equation -- talented math and science teachers lead to inspired and successful math and science students. High-quality math and science education is not optional. It is essential to holding our position as the world's leader of progress and hope. And I will set a national goal of making America number one in the world in math and science within fifteen years.

I will convene a national summit on Educational Standards and Accountability. We need to develop national Gold Standards that the states can adopt.

We should move from a pass/fail model to a more comprehensive system of measurement. Narrow tests will only create narrow people.

In general, we need to end the policy of punishment that Bush gave us with No Child Left Behind. If a school fails, we shouldn't punish that school, we should help it.

I also promise that I will strongly and steadfastly oppose school vouchers. . . .

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