Speaker Tells Democrats Education Must Be Nonpartisan
Block that metaphor.
Lina Drinkard, UniServe director of the North Carolina Association of Educators, told Democrats that No Child Left Behind has some good points, and that accountability in education is necessary — but that Democrats and Republicans need to come together in order to make No Child Left Behind reasonable and workable.
Drinkard spoke to the local Democrats' March meeting at the Rowan County Administration Building on Thursday night.
Using March Madness as an analogy, Drinkard said that No Child Left Behind, as it stands now, requires every school to make the Sweet 16.
Any player, she told the Democrats — even those with little athletic ability — can cause the team to fail. If the team doesn't make the Sweet 16, the coach is held accountable and the team loses funding.
Those players with exceptional talent, she said, must coach themselves. And the team is required to make the Sweet 16 next year.
Drinkard said that the American people spend hundreds of billions of dollars on education, and they need to be informed about what's happening with their money.
No Child Left Behind, she said, diverts the taxpayer's education money into the private sector, to private vendors.
"If it's not changed, it will bring about the demise of public education," she said. She embraced public schools as the one institution in America that truly creates a level playing field for everyone.
Drinkard said the most frustrating aspect of the federal program is that it does not address what clearly works, according to research: smaller class sizes and alternative schools.
"Fifteen students per class gives you the most bang for your buck," she said. Drinkard noted that many research studies have been conducted on class size and cost effectiveness.
"It works," she said.
Drinkard said she's a Democrat because she supports public education, an American ideal — but that Democrats cannot fix No Child Left Behind in this political climate.
She said Republicans and Democrats need to come together and create solutions. It's too important for partisanship, she said.
"The Democrats invited me here, but I'd love to speak to Republicans about this also," she added.
Drinkard clearly did not fault the need for accountability, just the way it's being enacted by No Child Left Behind.
She said North Carolina's ABC's initiative is a great model for accountability. She noted that Governor Mike Easley is a friend to educators and an advocate for children. But, she said, the federal law is a prime example of an unfunded mandate.
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