The public schools are where we deliver on the promise of equality of opportunity. I know that because I have lived it. Every opportunity I have had, including now the opportunity to serve in the United States Congress, I owe to the education available to me in North Carolina's public schools. I am determined to make those opportunities available to every child in every generation. The first speech I gave on the floor of the House of Representatives was on the commitment our nation should make to public education.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a promise of a major increase in the federal commitment to public education from kindergarten through the 12th grade, and of a new era of achievement for our public schools. Much of the Act was patterned on reforms adopted in North Carolina while I served in the legislature. I support the stated goals of NCLB with my whole heart. Without adequate funding, however, the Act is little more than cynical political posturing. I believe that federal funding levels for public education are shamefully inadequate, which is why I have consistently voted in favor of increasing education funding.
Congress will likely take up reauthorization of NCLB in 2008. During reauthorization, we must maintain our commitment to the goals of the No Child Left Behind: closing the academic achievement gap and helping all children learn. However the current law needs to be changed in order to move away from one-size-fits-all testing and all-or-nothing scoring of schools.
The Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, George Miller, has highlighted six features he will focus on during reauthorization. These include: fairness and flexibility for schools, a rich and challenging curriculum, support for teachers and principals, school accountability, steps to turn around low-performing middle and high schools, and greater financial investments to achieve the law's goals. I support these goals and look forward to seeing the bill that is brought before the Education and Labor Committee.