The public schools are where we deliver on the promise of equality of opportunity. I know because I have lived it. Every opportunity I have had, including the opportunity to serve in the United States Congress, I owe to the education available to me in North Carolina's public schools.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a promise of a new era of a federal commitment to education. The tenets of NCLB, that we must hold schools accountable and that we must close achievement gaps, are ones that I whole heartedly support. However, without adequate funding, No Child Left Behind is little more than cynical political posturing. This is why I have consistently voted in favor of increasing education funding. No Child Left Behind has also taken a rigid approach to measuring student achievement and has trapped the very schools most in need of federal assistance in a cycle of punitive measures that have only drained their resources.
The next congress will be responsible for reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. Any NCLB reauthorization bill should include fairness and flexibility for schools, support for teachers and principals, school accountability and greater financial investment in our schools.