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Obama announces plan to dismantle No Child Left Behind

ATLANTA - President Barack Obama is promising parents and their kids that with his administration's help they will have better teachers in improved schools so U.S. students can make up for academic ground lost against youngsters in other countries.

A plan to overhaul the 2002 education law championed by President George W. Bush was unveiled by the Obama administration yesterday in hopes of replacing a system that in the last decade has tagged more than a third of schools as failing and created a hodgepodge of sometimes weak academic standards among states.

"Unless we take action - unless we step up - there are countless children who will never realize their full talent and potential," Obama said.

In the proposed dismantling of the No Child Left Behind law, education officials would move away from punishing schools that don't meet benchmarks and focus on rewarding schools for progress, particularly with poor and minority students. Obama intends to send a rewrite of the law to Congress Monday.

The proposed changes call for states to adopt standards that ensure students are ready for college or a career rather than grade-level proficiency - the focus of the current law.

The blueprint also would allow states to use subjects other than reading and mathematics as part of their measurements for meeting federal goals, pleasing many education groups that have said No Child Left Behind encouraged teachers not to focus on history, art, science, social studies and other subjects.

And, for the first time in 45 years, the White House is proposing a $4 billion increase in federal education spending, most of which would go to increase the competition among states for grant money and move away from formula-based funding. The blueprint goes before the House Education and Labor Committee on Wednesday.

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