Hickenlooper, Bennet urge education secretary to revamp No Child Left Behind
posted by: Guest Blogger
Colorado lawmakers are joining the conversation on redrafting the No Child Left Behind law.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in a conference call to talk about changing the law.
“I cannot express how much we appreciate your sense of urgency,” Hickenlooper told Duncan. “All of us together need to work toward a common goal.”
The three said they want the law measured in student growth instead of a snapshot of academic achievement, to reward success, and make room for flexibility.
“To me the most important thing about the work is to support good ideas at the local level, at the state level, and learning from those ideas,” said Bennet, a former superintendent of Denver Public Schools. “We’re not going to have to mandate them. They will spread all across the country as people working in our schools and our classrooms seek the best outcome for kids.”
Bennet cited work in Denver that changed the way academic progress is tracked, following individual students from year to year, rather than grouping them in classes.
“We had to fight and fight and fight to get a waiver to do what was common sense,” Bennet said.
But these are the types of ideas that need to spread, Bennet said.
Under strained budgets, innovations are more difficult for some districts, and strings-attached money doesn’t help, they said.
“A lot of accounting rules make it very difficult for school districts to spend money in a way they think will have maximum impact for kids, so more flexibility is what we’re after,” Bennet said. “It’s important now in a difficult budget climate, though I think it’s important anytime.”
Hickenlooper said the state is working to allow districts more flexibility already.
For example, some rural school districts in Colorado will likely consolidate to alleviate budget constraints and staff reductions, he said.
“The fact that Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education are focused on diminishing some of the red tape inspires us at the state level to continue that effort to allow teachers to spend more time teaching, and learning to be better teachers, and less time just filling out forms,” Hickenlooper said.