PRESS RELEASE from the National Education Association

Contact: Brian Washington

June 5, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate Fails to Focus on 'No Child Left Behind'

Manchester, NH -- Tonight marked the third time a nationally televised debate involving Republican candidates running for the nation's highest elected office ended without any substantive discussion regarding America's public schools and the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's hallmark of education reform currently slated for reauthorization by Congress this year.

During a two-hour debate broadcast by CNN from Manchester, New Hampshire, Republican candidates seeking their party's nomination fielded questions from both reporters and voters about the war in Iraq, immigration, and even health care, but with very little mention of education or public schools.

At a town hall meeting in Guilford, Senator John McCain supported fixing NCLB's testing requirements for special ed students and English-language learners.
While candidates were not directly asked about NCLB and the future of America's public schools, several candidates did offer their belief that decisions about curricula -- especially on issues of science and evolution -- should be a matter for local school boards and education officials.

New Hampshire NEA member Grace Nelson was able to ask Senator John McCain (AZ) about No Child Left Behind at a town hall meeting in Guilford, NH, today. When asked what he would do about NCLB if elected President, the Senator responded that the law should be fixed -- especially in the areas of testing students with disabilities and non-English speaking students -- but that the law should not be repealed. NEA agrees that this aspect of NCLB has been particularly unworkable.

NEA believes the presidential campaigns represent an opportunity to change course on the flawed policies currently included in No Child Left Behind. The Association has outlined several priorities for reauthorization of No Child Left Behind including using more than a one-time, standardized test to measure student success, reducing class size to help students learn, and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in America's public school classrooms.

NEA will continue to urge the candidates from both parties to outline their views about the No Child Left Behind Act and how to ensure that the federal law helps create great public schools for every child.

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The National Education Association is the nationís largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2  million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.