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Dean Blasts No Child Left Behind

MERRIMACK, N.H. - Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean said Sunday he would have turned down money from the federal No Child Left Behind Act if he still was governor of Vermont.

"Vermont would have been the first state to turn down that money," Dean told a crowd of teachers and supporters at Merrimack High School.

Dean said the law lowers the standards for good schools in New Hampshire to make them more like poorly performing schools in Texas.

The Bush administration believes "the way to help New Hampshire is to make it more like Texas," Dean later told supporters in Manchester, adding that "every school in America by 2013 will be a failing school."

Dean has said he opposes the No Child Left Behind Act because it amounts to a mandate for local schools to put new achievement standards in place, but provides no federal money to pay for it.

The law, approved two years ago, requires schools and states to shoulder unprecedented federal accountability for test scores, dropout rates and teacher credentials.

Schools that don't meet standards can be listed as failing and their funding can be endangered.

Dean has said that by setting rigid standards, schools have an incentive to force out ow-performing students to raise their average test score, benefiting neither the student nor the school.

Dean, who decided not to run for re-election and left office last January, did accept the federal education money in 2002, but said the state would later assess the financial impact of the requirements attached to those funds.

Dean initially asked Vermont school superintendents to consider whether the state should forego an estimated $29 million in Title I money in order to opt out of the accompanying requirements.

But in October 2002, Dean said state officials planned to wait and see how costly it ultimately would be to comply with the new federal education law. At the time he said the final cost would not be clear until 2003.

Dean's successor in Vermont, Republican Gov. James Douglas, accepted the federal funding this year. Two schools in the state face losing money or other steps because they are not performing up to standards. Four others that were headed for the same steps improved enough in the past year to avoid sanctions.

— Kate McCann
Dean blasts "No Child Left Behind"
Times Argus


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