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NCLB Outrages

Richardson: I'll abolish No Child Left Behind law

Union members should tell NEA to get behind a candidate who dares to speak out strongly against NCLB, instead of playing along with super standardistos like Obama and Clinton.

It couldn't hurt to write Edwards and ask him why he's so silent.

by William Petroski

Boone, Ia. â New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson vowed today to abolish the federal governmentâs âNo Child Left Behindâ education law if he is elected president.

The law, adopted in 2001, is aimed at improving academic achievement among all students. It includes annual testing to measure progress in reading and math. Critics contend the law has never been supported by adequate federal money and that such a heavy emphasis on testing encourages âteaching to the test.â

âWhat I believe is key, and what I will do the first day, is get rid of âNo Child Left Behind,â â Richardson told about 100 people in a town hall-style meeting at the Boone County Historical Center.

He said he favors establishing a minimum wage for teachers, adding that teachers are âmaligned, underpaid and not treated right.â

He also expressed his support for preschool programs, and for bolstering high school math and science curriculums.

âLetâs have testing. Letâs have performance. But letâs make sure it is coordinated with the local school district,â Richardson said. If schools arenât doing well, they should be helped, rather than penalized, he added.

Richardson also said he favors national scholarships that would enable all young people to attend college, vocational schools, or other types of post-high school programs. He also supports finding ways for working mothers to return to school.

Students who are saddled with large college loans after graduation should have an opportunity to pay off those debts through a program of national service that could include community volunteer work or military duty, he said.

Richardson repeated other key campaign themes during his final day of a three-day swing through Iowa, including an emphasis on renewable energy, pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq and providing universal health care.

The crowd responded with loud applause when he vowed, âI will be a president who follows the Constitution of the United States,â in jab at the Bush administration.

Richardson, a former congressman, U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, asked people attending the meeting to âkeep their powder dryâ instead of immediately making commitments to the crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates.

He reminded them that Januaryâs Iowa Caucuses are still months away, and that he has gained in the polls since launching his campaign earlier this year.

Georgia Robertson of Boone, co-chair of the Boone County Democratic Party, said afterward she still hasnât endorsed a presidential candidate, but she believed Richardson made a good impression at the meeting.

âI think heâs great. We had seen him speak before at a house party, and he is a very personable speaker. He knows what he is talking about, and if he doesnât know, he will find out and get back to you,â Robertson said.

Gene Pepper, a retiree from Boone who described himself as a lifelong Republican, said he is strongly considering casting a Democratic ballot for Richardson, although he also likes Republican Mitt Romney.

âWeâve got to get rid of whatâs in there, period,â Pepper said, referring to the Bush administration. He said he is very critical of Bush, whom he acknowledged voting for twice.

— William Petroski
Des Moines Register


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