March 14th, 2010
05:56 PM ET

Obama to push 'No Child Left Behind' overhaul

The Obama administration plans to send a wide-ranging overhaul of the No Child Left Behind education law to Congress on Monday, arguing that the current legislation has pushed schools to lower their standards to meet federal requirements. 

The 8-year-old law was one of the signature policies of the Bush administration. It set up a regimen of state reading and math tests for students in third through eighth grades, intended to identify failing schools.

But critics have said the Bush administration never properly funded the effort and that states needed more flexibility in meeting those goals.

During his weekly radio address Saturday, President Barack Obama said his administration's proposed overhaul will "set a high bar - but we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it."

"Under these guidelines, schools that achieve excellence or show real progress will be rewarded, and local districts will be encouraged to commit to change in schools that are clearly letting their students down," he said.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said the law's goal was "the right one," but the legislation "has significant flaws that need to be addressed." And Education Secretary Arne Duncan told CNN last week that educators have "lowered the bar" to meet No Child Left Behind standards.

"We've had low expectations - not because it's the right thing educationally, not because it's the right thing for our economy. We did it because of political pressure," Duncan told CNN's "The Situation Room."

The Department of Education has identified 11 states it said lowered math standards. But several of those states have disputed that conclusion, and it was not clear whether any reduced their standards so that their scores would look better.

The administration's "Blueprint for Reform" shifts the focus from singling out underperforming schools to fostering a "race to the top" to reward successful reforms. The proposed revisions promise that low-performing schools that fail to improve will be asked to show "dramatic change," but states and school districts be held accountable for those shortcomings as well.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Education • U.S.
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. viking

    No child left behind is a lovely idea. It simply isn't realistic. If you are going to leave nobody behind that means the kids that can are going to have to be slowed down to the pace of those who do not have to ability to learn quickly. Worse it means that they will even have to slow down to the pace of those that are not interested in learning.

    March 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim - MI

    Instead of all these programs that each administration creates and ultimately fail at the cost of tens of billions of dollars a year, howabout a better program? Like, no more enhance benefits for teacher unions? Or, No more teacher unions period? The rising cost of education is entirely due to unions, period. Our kids are failing at an appalling rate and union contracts are rising at an equal rate with no coralation between better performance and increased union benefits.

    Unions destroyed our manufacturing base; they destroyed our city, county, state and federal government services; now they are destroying the education system in this county and not only the k-12 system. The increased demands from teachers is putting a college education out of reach of millions of kids. We need to end the union greed now! I am tone deaf to teacher unions telling me that every increase in property and federal taxes is for the children, it is a lie, the increases is always for the teacher and it needs to end NOW!!!

    March 15, 2010 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Wayne

    Schools closing, "consolidated" is what they call it. Furlough days. Programs cut, scalled back. More direct funding by the parent, me. Buses on shorter routes, smaller area covered. Multi-million $ shortfalls. State seriously considering a 4 day school week. 'Latch key' gives way to "Thrown Out Friday' kids.

    But, Barack says no child will be left behind, so that means ALL will suffer.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |