U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says it is time to overhaul of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, claiming the eight-year old Bush law “was too punitive, was too prescription and actually led to a lowering of the bar, a lowering of expectations.”
Under NCLB, schools are evaluated based on student test scores. In an effort secure federal aid, 13 states actually lowered standards for math, reading and science. The Obama administration proposes a common set of standards that crosses state lines and tests for career or college readiness.
Presenting to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Duncan cited 27 percent of American high schoolers drop out and that only 40 percent of the country’s young people earn a two-year or four-year college degree. “I believe that education is the one true path out of poverty. It has to be the great equalizer in our society,” added Duncan (see complete speech here).
Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, the senior Republican on the Senate education committee commented, “What we have learned is that a better balance is needed between prescriptive federal mandates and state and local flexibility. The blueprint seems to reflect this belief.” The reform is under fire from teachers unions for dumping all of the burden without any of the authority onto teachers.