The following are excerpts from a recent Union Leader op-ed by Linda Henderson, a member of the Exeter Region Cooperative School Board in New Hampshire:
"DESPITE relentless efforts to sabotage the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education reform act, it's working. In New Hampshire and across America, more children have better tools and more opportunities to succeed in school because of the NCLB program. For those of us who care about kids more than politics, that's what matters most."
"Now all 50 states have approved accountability programs. Regular people can find out how their schools are doing. There is help for schools in trouble and consequences for failure. And we're seeing results. Since 2000, 28 of the 40 states reporting showed improvements in 8th graders moving out of the lowest achievement level in math into higher levels and 4th grade math scores are up 12 percent nationwide.
"Most federal education funding comes through ESEA, a program that dates back decades. In 2001 New Hampshire got about $40 million. By 2004, as a direct result of NCLB, that number jumped to more than $66 million, a 44 percent increase, the largest in the history of the program. New Hampshire gets money it needs, flexibility in how we spend it and accountability to measure effectiveness. I wish all government programs made that much sense. And NCLB says that no state, city or school has to do anything required by the act that isn't fully paid for with federal funds. That guarantees NCLB cannot be an unfunded or even an under-funded mandate.
"Some of NCLB's fiercest critics have also fought hardest against school choice. It's a shame. Wealthy families already have school choice because they can pay for tuition. No Child Left Behind helps level that playing field so all kids in a poorly performing school have a chance to get into a better school and get a better education. It's the kids in a school we should care about, not the building. NCLB puts kids first by improving public school choice.
"No Child Left Behind has two types of critics. Some always want more money. Others attack any sensible reform simply because its success might be perceived to help President Bush. Education reform is too important to let these people stop you from getting the facts.
"I've been on school boards in Exeter for 15 years and have seen plenty of education 'reforms' come and go. This program makes sense and it's working. No Child Left Behind is helping improve schools. Complaining about it is not."
The complete text of this op-ed is available from the Union Leader online archive for a fee.
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