Sens. Bennet, Hagan: Education Reform Critical

Thursday, 03 Mar 2011 08:50 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, say they are working to re-draw the President George W. Bush-era federal education mandate known as "No Child Left Behind," because the nation’s schools drastically need improvement. The two were among a group of senators who joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Wednesday to unveil proposals that would move away from rigid testing and toward flexibility for local school districts.

bennet, education, critical, reform
                             Bennet
Speaking Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Bennet – a former Denver school superintendent – said the United States is doing a “horrific job” in education, specifically in teaching impoverished students.

“What we are trying to do is fix ‘No Child Left Behind.’ I was on the receiving end of that for a number of years as the superintendent in Denver, and my starting point to this is that we are doing a horrific job of educating our kids in this country, especially children living in poverty,” Bennet said. “The numbers are just unbelievable. If you are a child living in poverty today, you’re only [one of] nine out of 100 that can expect to graduate from college; only 15 or 16 that are reading at grade level by the eighth grade.

“We are not going to fix that problem from Washington, but I think we can do some things here to inspire innovation in school districts and in states, to figure out new ways of attracting and retaining new teachers to our classrooms,” he said. “But in this land of opportunity of ours, if you stand a nine in 100 chance of graduating from college, that opportunity seems incredibly diminished to you. That’s why it’s so important for us to change the law we have in Washington.”

Host Joe Scarborough asked Hagan what she thought they could do that will change the direction of education.

“It’s the time now to fix this bill,” Hagan said. “You know, a life in the year of a child cannot be wasted. That’s why I think the time is now,” adding that changes first need to begin in educating the youngest of children.

“Right now the U.S. is ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math – China ranks number one,” she said. “We’ve got to make significant changes and that’s what these principles stand for, and we need to work together with Democrats and Republicans to fix this bill.”

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