Tags: Arne Duncan | No Child Left Behind | education secretary

Secretary Duncan: Leave Some of No Child Left Behind Intact

Image: Secretary Duncan: Leave Some of No Child Left Behind Intact
Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Pat Benic/UPI/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 12 Jan 2015 02:29 PM

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is ready to work with Republicans to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, but said there are parts of the landmark legislation that should remain in place as they are effective for students.

"For a Republican Party that has fought hard against wasting money, that has pushed for a focus on results for taxpayer dollars, turning back the clock would be truly hypocritical," Duncan said recently in a speech, reports Politico. "This country can't afford to replace 'the fierce urgency of now' with the soft bigotry of 'it's somehow optional.'"

Duncan said the law is "tired" and does need changes, but key parts such as annual tests, public results reports, and intervening in schools that are failing are vital and should be kept.

The bipartisan law was signed in 2002 by then-President George W. Bush, and came due for reauthorization in 2007, with the Education Department outlining a potential overhaul back in 2010.

Duncan has discussed several changes, including urging Congress on setting limits on state and district standardized testing, and bringing in more funding, although such spending may have a difficult time passing.

But President Barack Obama's upcoming budget proposal includes a planned $2.7 billion rise in federal education spending, more than twice what he sought last year. Around $1 billion of the money would be earmarked for Title 1 programs for schools that have large numbers of low-income students, said Duncan.

"In the end, there is much we can debate about in ESEA reauthorization and areas for productive compromise," Duncan said. "But Congress must not compromise the nation’s vital interest in lifting up all students and protecting the most vulnerable."

Duncan will likely face a fight in the Senate, including from Republican Lamar Alexander,  head of the Senate education committee.

Alexander has his own plans for No Child Left Behind, and said the update is his committee's first order of business.

The federally mandated testing requirement built into the law may be the first to go.

"Of course we should be asking the question: Are there too many tests?" Alexander said. “Every teacher and parent is asking that question, and if there’s going to be a requirement for 17 tests in reading, math and science, we need to make sure that’s justified."

His plan is also expected to cut several Obama administration grant programs, including Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and School Improvement Grants, reports Politico.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking member on the education committee, agrees with Duncan on keeping yearly testing, an aide said, and will fight to keep them.

Rep. Bobby Scott, ranking member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said the law is one of the "most significant civil rights achievements of our era" and the law's core goal to give all students a quality education is important, reports Politico.

"Having accurate information about student performance, maintaining high standards, supporting teachers and school leaders, preventing students from dropping out and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline must be our top priorities," said Scott.

Eventually, Duncan said, the law should be replaced with one that gives states more flexibility, but retains subjects beyond just reading, writing, and math, while getting an education that gets them ready for college or jobs.

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan is ready to work with Republicans to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, but said there are parts of the landmark legislation that should remain in place as they are effective for students.
Arne Duncan, No Child Left Behind, education secretary
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2015-29-12
Monday, 12 Jan 2015 02:29 PM
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