US Senator Harkin has plans to reform No Child Left Behind
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- US Senator Tom Harkin wasn't speaking, but listening Saturday, taking comments on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act also know as No Child Left Behind.
The act is up for reauthorization and many want some major changes to the program's "race to the top" structure.
No Child Left Behind's methods have been controversial from the beginning. Often criticized, is the government's ability to fire teachers and even shut schools down, for repeatedly scoring low on state standardized tests.
Claryce Evans is a retired teacher and sits on an advisory committee. She wants a change to the 2001 education Act.
"I think that there should be some major changes," says Evans.
Evans isn't not alone. Saturday, North High School in Sioux City was packed with educators and parents all airing grievances about the now 10 year old act to US Senator Tom Harkin.
"I am doing this because this is where I get my best input from people that run local schools the teachers the principals," says Harkin.
As part of a trip across the state Harkin, who oversees the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee says he'll be taking that input and drafting a bill that'll change some of No Child's more controversial measures.
"We need to change some of the things in No Child Left Behind, we know some of the things aren't working," says Harkin.
"Schools are punished when they need to be supported," says Sioux City Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman.
Officials in Sioux City are asking for an overhaul of the act. To get a better snapshot of students' performances, they want more evaluations then just the one standardized test given each year. They also want the act to offer supportive measures, rather than punishment for schools failing to meet federal standards.
And finally they want to give school boards local control to fix the problems.
"We need to restore local control, our own local community can make the best decisions for the students in the local community," says Gausman.
"I heard a lot of good stuff today and we are in the process of writing the bill," says Harkin.
And that's good news to past teachers like Evans who are ready and waiting for change.
Harkin says he's hopes to have the No Child Reform bill completed and ready for voting by Easter.