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Obama bends No Child Left Behind learning curve

The No Child Left Behind Act was fundamentally correct in demanding standards and testing of public schools. But the Obama plan would correct its flaws.

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Although President Obama has yet to achieve much on jobs, healthcare, or energy, he is on track to transform America’s education.

He has pushed many states to reform education laws by dangling $4.35 billion in incentive grants. Now he wants to alter the No Child Left Behind law by rewarding schools that do well and revamping those schools that don’t.

Unlike in healthcare, Mr. Obama has been careful to take a bipartisan approach in reforming K-12 education. He consulted key Republicans before outlining his proposed changes to No Child last week. And while he has shown he is not beholden to unions – he would tie teacher evaluations to student test scores – he also wants to drop the law’s option of paying parents to send kids to private schools if a public school fails.

This middle way is necessary in a country that treats public schools as a largely local concern and that is wary of one-size-fits-all federal solutions. It helps, too, that US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan once ran Chicago’s schools and saw firsthand how No Child went too far – and not far enough.

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