Obama to urge ‘No Child’ reform
President Barack Obama will renew his push Monday to overhaul the nearly decade-old federal education law, calling on Congress to finish a rewrite of No Child Left Behind by the start of the next school year.
Pushing an issue that administration views as ripe for bipartisan cooperation, Obama will use a visit to an Arlington, Va., school to praise the efforts by Republican and Democratic lawmakers to fix the law and outline his own priorities, top administration officials said Sunday.
“We need to make sure we’re graduating students who are ready for college and a career,” Obama will say at Kenmore Middle School, according to a White House release. “In the 21st century, it’s not enough to leave no child behind. We need to help every child get ahead. We need to get every child on a path to academic excellence.”
Monday’s push follows a meeting last week between the president and a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have been working for months with administration officials on the rewrite.
“Our agenda is largely aligned with leaders on both sides of the aisle and leaders at every level of government,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Sunday.
But on one area of particular interest to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) – expanding school vouchers in Washington, D.C. – the president isn’t expected to make a pitch for the program. Boehner has signaled that he will use the voucher program as a bargaining chip in the education reform negotiations.
Obama “doesn’t believe that vouchers are the way that we’re going to solve the comprehensive problems that we have in our school systems right now,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “We need a holistic approach.”
Obama will call for a rewrite that targets schools and students most at risk, directing resources to low-performing schools and teachers who serve them. He will seek a system more flexible than the one in place, and will push for broadening the focus of school curricula beyond math and reading, raising expectations for students, boosting teacher effectiveness, rewarding excellence and sharing responsibility for improvement, the aides said.
“Under current law, the federal government prescribes a one-size-fits-all solution,” Duncan said. “We need to do away with unnecessary federal mandates and increase local control to pursue solutions focused on results.”