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Obama Calls for Overhaul of ‘No Child’ Law

U.S. Capitol BuildingSince it was first enacted in 1965, Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been the main channel for funneling federal dough to public K-12 schools, which are mostly funded by states and local authorities. Title 1 spending amounts to $14 billion. Now, Congress is gearing up to reauthorize ESEA, which was last reauthorized during the George W. Bush presidency, when it was redubbed No Child Left Behind (NCLB). President Obama’s version, unveiled last week, would greatly overhaul NCLB, says the New York Times. Though it would retain the annual math and reading tests, it would also assess schools on a range of other criteria, including graduation rates, teacher evaluations, and learning climate. The White House’s mantra is that students should graduate college- and career-ready.

According to the STEM Coalition, a group of mostly tech-heavy industry groups, that means the bill should be used to strengthen STEM education in schools. In a letter to the House Committee on Education and Labor, the coalition—which was just launched last week and has set a goal of 400,000 students graduating with STEM degrees by 2020—urged the panel to consider seven recommendations it said would bolster STEM studies. Among them: the inclusion of science in any ESEA accountability system for states and school districts, greater emphasis on STEM careers in after-school programs, and more resources for districts to hire or train science and math specialists, otherwise known as “master teachers.” The letter cited Labor Department statistics saying that 15 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations by 2014 would require “significant science and math” skills.

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