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No Child Left Behind cemented as failed education legacy of President Bush

Promising new direction for public education around the corner with Obama and Duncan


WASHINGTON - January 08, 2009 -

For seven years, educators have been living and working with the unintended and harmful consequences of No Child Left Behind, which judges schools and children based solely on standardized test scores at the expense of preparing them with 21st century skills. President-elect Obama is calling to fully fund the law and move away from the test, label and punish regime of the last seven years.

“No Child Left Behind is firmly cemented as President Bush’s failed education experiment,” said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president. “Such overemphasis on standardized testing, combined with a lack of funding, has forced schools to narrow the curriculum and divert resources from art, music, social studies and physical education to teach to the test. The good news is that with President-elect Obama and Arne Duncan—his choice to head the Department of Education—at the helm, the beginning of a promising new direction for public education in this country is around the corner.”

President-elect Obama views children as citizens of the world, not just standardized test scores and wants to look beyond NCLB to strengthen public education. Obama’s preK initiative is a firm embrace of the importance of early childhood education. He’s also pledged to make college affordable for all Americans. And he plans to introduce the most sweeping effort to modernize school buildings as part of his Wall Street to Main Street economic recovery plan.

Obama and Duncan have called for more flexibility for states and school districts, better quality tests, multiple ways of measuring school quality and student learning, and recruiting and training more teachers. In his home state of Chicago, Duncan has worked to reduce the dropout rate, reduce school violence, and create successful new schools. If confirmed, Duncan would become the first education secretary with direct experience with the federal education law at the local level.

Obama and Duncan recognize that while our schools can and must improve, the federal government must also help support children through adequate health care, nutrition programs, safe and affordable housing, and other needed services. Duncan has been a strong proponent of increased parent and community engagement in schools, and linking schools and communities to ensure students get the services they need to succeed.

In addition to calling for a renewed commitment and role for the federal government in K–12 and higher education, NEA is advancing commonsense strategies that will help make college more affordable and ensure great public schools for every student, including quality early childhood education, improved teacher recruitment and retention, class size reduction, safe and modern facilities, and a real attempt to infuse 21st century skills into our schools.

“We look forward to working with the incoming Obama administration and Congress—as well as parents and community leaders—to put in place the right education vision for America,” Van Roekel said. 

For additional information, please visit www.nea.org.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org