DeMint Supports More Choices in Education
Day 1 of "Success in School, Success in Life" Tour; Senator Proposes Changes to No Child Left Behind
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) proposed substantive changes to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that would improve education in South Carolina and across the nation by giving states more flexibility to reward schools that are being innovative, better inform parents of their rights, and allow for more school choice. Senator DeMint outlined his proposals for NCLB's upcoming 2007 reauthorization to education and business leaders during his "Success in School, Success in Life" statewide tour.
"The bottom line is that we need more flexibility in education," said Senator DeMint. "When Congress passed No Child Left Behind, it was a major step forward in education reform, yet there are some common sense changes we can make to better prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow. Our country's economy is changing so quickly that our one-size-fits-all education system is holding our children back. We need to knock down these barriers in Washington and let our states innovate."
NCLB provides some families with options for tutoring and public school choice, but parents of children in failing schools often have no idea what options are available and believe they have little or no choice for their children's education.
"We need to ensure that all parents get timely information about their rights under No Child Left Behind. Congress should demand that states and districts explain every available option to the parents of children in failing schools," said Senator DeMint. "I'm not suggesting that we should give up on improving these schools, but we have to give our kids the chance to succeed. When Congress reauthorizes No Child Left Behind next year, we need to expand the options available to these families so they have access to private schools."
In 2001, NCLB established procedures that require schools to measure the progress of all students. These accountability measures shined light on the state of our nation's schools. Unfortunately, NCLB does not always recognize alternate and improved ways to measure progress. For example, in addition to the PACT test, 72 school districts in South Carolina are also testing students in ways that show improvement throughout the year, providing teachers with more timely information on their students' development. This new method of measuring progress is called "Growth Model" testing, and Senator DeMint believes that NCLB should give consideration to schools that are showing significant progress.
"I believe we must continue to hold states accountable for their educational systems, but we must also be smart and flexible in how we demand that accountability," said Senator DeMint. "If a school is showing measurable improvement using new and innovative methods, we need to encourage their progress and remove the obstacles in their way."
Senator DeMint is spending the first day of his tour meeting with Greenville, Spartanburg and Greer business leaders, the Greenville County School Board and state education leader Karen Floyd. He will spend the rest of the week traveling to Greenwood, Newberry, Columbia, Union, Charleston and Florence.