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What U.S. Teachers Want to Hear from Candidates

Seek changes to No Child Left Behind Act 

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What do U.S. public school teachers want to hear from the presidential candidates? Mainly, that sweeping changes will be made to provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. The major education reform legislation, enacted during President Bush's first term, requires mandatory student performance testing and can cause federal funding to be taken away from public schools that fail to measure up to standards.

“As the election cycle continues, teachers and those who work in schools would like to see more attention paid to the issues that matter to them, their students, parents and America’s public schools,” said National Education Association (NEA) President, Reg Weaver. “One issue that affects every teacher is using high-stakes tests to measure school success. America’s teachers and education support professionals know that children learn differently, they learn at different rates, and that multiple measures must be used if you are to accurately evaluate student progress and school success.”

Weaver pointed out that the No Child Left Behind law takes federal funding away from schools that can’t make uniform progress, ignoring different learning styles and the progress students make. He said the NEA hopes the candidates in the election will discuss how to accurately measure real student success, without hurting the schools that need the most help.

“Instead of punishing schools that need help the most, educators, parents and the public want to see investments in the classroom,” Weaver said. “We all know what works in the classroom to help students achieve – high quality teachers, up-to-date resources, and smaller class sizes.”

“The single most important factor in a child’s education is the quality of his or her teacher,” Weaver said. “Unfortunately, we now have relaxed teacher quality standards in this law and teachers are treated like nothing more than test-givers.”

However, funding for the No Child Left Behind law has a $9.5 billion funding shortfall while money for risky voucher schemes has increased. The NEA hopes the candidates will discuss ways to increase investment in the things that work, and not entertain the notion of implementing an expanded version of this critically flawed, unfunded mandate into the secondary grades, he added.

“Children also need to start school ready to learn and be given financial support for their post-high-school education. That’s why investments in early childhood education and higher education are necessary for a strong America,” Weaver said. “With too many crumbling school buildings and federal education laws – like the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act -- continuing to strain state and local governments, it seems that politicians should be talking about ways to make sure every child has access to a high-quality public school.

The NEA hopes the candidates will address the needs of the people who work every day, face to face, in the classrooms with America’s children.”

Following the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the National Education Association went to court in an attempt to prevent the law from taking effect. The court action prompted Education Secretary Rod Paige to accuse the NEA of creating a "coalition of the whining."

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