Wow! Richardson says that as president, he I will fight for national average starting pay for teachers of at least $40,000 a year and invest in pre-K. He sounds on target in terms of promoting necessary (though not fully sufficient) reform. This is a start nevertheless. -Angela
NCLB Fails Our Schools
By Bill Richardson
USA Today, Sept 7, 2007
I have a one-point plan for No Child Left Behind:
NCLB has failed. It has failed our schools, it has
failed our teachers and it has failed our children.
The Bush administration claims victories, but upon
closer scrutiny it becomes clear that the White House
is simply dressing up ugly data with fancy political
spin. Far from leaving no child behind, President Bush
seems to have left reality behind.
Just look at the facts. The National Assessment of
Educational Progress shows a slight narrowing of the
racial achievement gap over the past three years. This
narrowing, however, is due to a decline in overall
reading scores, not to improvements in minority
This is not progress.
Review the figures, and you will see that our schools
are not failing NCLB; the program is failing our
schools. In some grades, reading and math scores have
actually declined for Hispanics, African-Americans and
others. The current pass-fail rating system is worse
than meaningless ˜ it's counter-productive. If a
school needs help, we should help that school. We
shouldn't punish it, as NCLB mandates.
We need to move beyond the empty rhetoric of No Child
Left Behind. We must provide our public schools with
what the National Education Association refers to as
the three R's ˜ Responsibility, Respect and Resources.
The key to this improvement is respecting teachers. I
signed a law in New Mexico that pays teachers a
professional salary. As president, I will fight for
national average starting pay for teachers of at least
$40,000 a year.
Teacher salaries are just the beginning. Quality pre-K
programs allow children to show up in first grade
ready to learn. These programs must be available to
Finally, we need strong academic standards aligned
with the needs of today's workforce. America's schools
were designed for the 20th century economy ˜ this is
no longer sufficient. Our children need to graduate
ready to engage with the New Economy, not the old one.
True education reform requires more than a set of
unfunded mandates and a list of failing schools. It
requires a vision for success, the state and federal
funding to match, and the experience to bring real
reform to America's failing schools.
Bill Richardson is the governor of New Mexico. He is
seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for president.