Wednesday, September 19, 2007
With children, parents and teachers getting settled into the new school year, Congress is getting to work on renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act.
With enactment of the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, the federal government ended a decades-long era of spending billions on education without insisting on results. The law is transforming our education system from a one-size-fits-all system run from Washington, D.C. to a flexible system with decision-making authority in the hands of parents and teachers who know our children best. More dollars are being sent directly to the classroom and schools are allowed greater discretion in deciding how to spend them. By insisting that all children should be learning and that those who aren't should get extra help, progress is being made.
However, as any law as sweeping as the No Child Left Behind Act is implemented it's predictable that unexpected concerns will arise and needed improvements will be identified. At the end of September the No Child Left Behind Act will expire unless Congress acts - providing an opportunity to continue and improve this law.
The following goals will guide my decisions as Congress works to renew the No Child Left Behind Act:
Increase Flexibility for States and Local School Districts - Schools in Central Washington have different needs than schools in Seattle or New York. The law must be workable for rural areas. States and school districts should have flexibility in deciding how to spend 100 percent of their federal dollars.
Provide More Choices for Parents - If children and aren't learning and schools aren't improving, parents deserve maximum choices in moving their child to another school or getting extra help.
Ensure the Best Use of Federal Education Dollars - The federal government shouldn't be micromanaging our local schools. Duplicative and unnecessary federal programs that waste taxpayer dollars and create red-tape for local schools should be eliminated.
Support Teachers - America's teachers are too often underpaid and underappreciated. I support programs to ensure that we have qualified teachers in all classrooms, help teachers with out-of-pocket classroom costs and reward teachers who are making a positive difference in children's lives.
Continue Accountability through State Designed Tests - Schools must be accountable for ensuring that every child learns - regardless of race, family income, disability or geography. Tests developed by each state allow parents to identify whether improvements are being made. Rather than more testing or national testing, I support added flexibility for states in designing their accountability systems.
By building upon the No Child Left Behind Act, we can do more to ensure a quality education for all American children.
Congressman Doc Hastings represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.