School officials mixed on plan to nix ‘No Child’

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Presidential hopeful Gov. Bill Richardson revealed Thursday a $60 billion education plan to overhaul the national education system which nixes No Child Left Behind.

Richardson said he would pay for the plan by cutting Cold War-era weapons systems and ending subsidies to private banks, and still have money left over.

Richardson’s plan calls the education system broken, and pledges to scrap No Child Left Behind, President Bush’s education plan that focused on accountability and standards for students and schools.

“Some say fix it, others say tweak it. Senator (Hillary) Clinton says reform it,” Richardson said. “I also have two words for No Child Left Behind: Scrap it. Scrap it. End it.”

Clovis and Portales school administrators agree the plan has problems. Both Clovis and Portales Municipal Schools did not pass the plan’s Adequate Yearly Progress that tests students on reading and math.

Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm agrees with Richardson.

“No Child Left Behind is so broken that it would be much easier to scrap it and start all over again than to try to fix it,” she said. “It is way beyond tweaking.”

Seidenwurm said the last time the American Association of School Administrators evaluated the plan, they found about 37 points that needed to be corrected.

Portales Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said the concept behind the plan is good but its execution leaves much to be desired.

“There are so many ways you can fail and only one way you can be successful,” he said. “I do think our teachers are working harder, and not getting much in return as far as feeling valued by the community.”

Seidenwurm and Fowler both said the plan forces teachers to concentrate on reading and math and ignore other subjects such as arts, science and social studies.

“There needs to be a way for the public to have informed opinions about how well their schools are doing,” she said. “A one-shot test that only tests reading and math is not the education that I believe most parents really want for their kids.”

— The Associated Press and Freedom New Mexico staff writer Kevin Wilson contributed to this report.