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Dem chair backs reform in eduction

Now what are the people saying who said if we elected democrats things would improve in education policy?

Don't suffer this in silence!

Buy a $5.95 copy of Examining DIBELS: What It Is and What It Does?, ed. Ken Goodman, and send it to:
Rep. George Miller
2205 Rayburn House Office Build
Washington, D. C. 20515

You can click on the hot link above to order the book. Or you can send me the $5.95 and I will send it to Miller for you, including a letter.

Susan Ohanian
P. O. Box 370
Charlotte, VT 05445

Or send something else. The point here is we must not be silent, and for $5.95 you can send a strong message.

By James Hohmann

The incoming Democratic chair of the House Committee on Education and the Work Force told an education summit in Encina Hall Friday that Democrats will push for the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind education reform law while angling to increase teacher quality standards.

“Hopefully we have the values to do it right and continue on this journey,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who said that not reauthorizing the controversial bill would set back efforts to improve educational opportunities for the poor and minority populations.

Miller, who represents the San Francisco East Bay, said reauthorization will hinge on putting quality teachers in the classroom. He said Democrats would take a stand to ensure standards were put in place to limit the employment of so-called “emergency” teachers.

“When that child walks through the front door of that school, they are entitled to a teacher who has the skills,” he said. “It should not be a game of Russian Roulette for who you get in your classroom. It’s simply not fair to the kids.”

He said that California had 60,000 emergency teachers when President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law.

But Miller indicated he would not be beholden to the special interest teaching lobby when he said he could support performance pay and signing bonuses for new teachers. Groups like the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the two largest teacher’s union, have traditionally opposed measures designed to hold teachers accountable for how they teach.

Miller said that young people today understand and respond to economic incentives. He suggested that teacher unions have not been listening to younger members.

“They’ve got one or more feet stuck in the past,” he said.

The congressman, considered a close ally and friend of presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said he had changed his mind on so-called “growth modeling,” a performance assessment that looks at how much students improved year-over-year instead of comparing students to a benchmark of where they should be at their grade level.

“I think I was wrong with them,” he said. “When we talk about growth models, it’s going to have to be growth through proficiency.”

Miller, 61, has been the highest ranking Democrat on the education committee since 2001. He commended current Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings for her work on implementing the education reform law, saying she was more flexible than her predecessor Rod Paige.

Education Prof. Kenji Hakuta said that he was not surprised that Democratic leadership — Miller and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) had decided to endorse reauthorization of the bill.

“I think he anticipated the challenges that the reauthorization is going to face but also saw the opportunity to learn from the past five years of implementing the bill,” he said.

The long-held Democratic polling advantage on education issues over Republican rivals was largely neutralized by President Bush in the past four elections. Democrats hope to capitalize on their newfound majorities in the Congress to regain the trust of the American people, analysts say, to convince voters that they are not in the pockets of teacher’s unions and have a plan to improve education performance.

Miller’s speech came at the end of an almost 10-hour long policy summit on education sponsored by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to studying economic policy.

A few hundred participants listened in the Bechtel Conference Center as panelists and politicians — including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell — stressed how critical education is as an input in the economy.

— James Hohmann
Stanford Daily


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