Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is four years overdue. In March of 2010, the Administration unveiled its Blueprint for Reform. Since then we’ve worked on a bipartisan basis to craft a comprehensive reform bill that would help give our children the world-class education they need and deserve. Today marks an important step forward.
Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Mike Enzi — Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — introduced a bipartisan bill to officially overhaul NCLB. I deeply appreciate the efforts of Senators Harkin and Enzi to build in more flexibility for states and districts, and focus on the goal of building a world-class education system that prepares all students for college and careers. Increased flexibility at the state and local level is consistent with the administration’s policy on waivers and our Blueprint for Reform.
However, it is equally important that we maintain a strong commitment to accountability for the success of all students, and I am concerned that the Senate bill does not go far enough. Parents, teachers, and state leaders across the country understand that in order to prepare all of our young people to compete in the global economy, we must hold ourselves and each other accountable at every level of the education system– from the classroom to the school district, from the states to the federal government. In addition, I am concerned the Senate bill lacks a comprehensive evaluation and support system to guide teachers and principals in continuing to improve their practice.
America cannot retreat from reform. We must ensure that every classroom in every school is a place of high expectations and high performance. The fact that we have a bipartisan bill in the Senate is an important and positive development, but it’s only a beginning. I look forward to working with Congress in the weeks and months ahead to advance this bipartisan effort, address these and other concerns and build a world-class education system that strengthens America’s economy and secures America’s future.
Arne Duncan is the U.S. Secretary of Education