Support changes to education law

Daily Editorial Board

The House of Representatives has passed a replacement of the heavily criticized No Child Left Behind Act, which former President George W. Bush signed into law in 2002.
 
A companion bill is expected to pass in the Senate later this week and ultimately to reach President Barack Obama. 
 
The updated measure allows states more freedom in choosing the type and amount of standardized testing they administer. It would also limit tests’ role in judging teacher effectiveness and combine numerous separate federal programs. Even with this increased freedom for states, mandatory annual proficiency exams in both math and reading would remain. 
 
Although written with the best intentions to bridge the racial- and poverty-based achievement gap, No Child Left Behind has faced criticism. Some have said it focuses too much on “teaching to test” and too little on actually making sure students learn the material. Moreover, by creating competition for funding between schools, it has led to side effects like cheating and unfair grading. 
 
Two Minnesotan politicians — Rep. John Kline, R-District 2, and Sen. Al Franken, DFL — support the rewrite. They have advocated for changes, with Kline even heading a bipartisan effort to negotiate specific details regarding funding and accountability. Franken called the bill an “improvement,” though he said it was not “perfect.”
 
We support a rewrite of No Child Left Behind and the increased state-centric approach in delegating responsibility for achieving successful schools. Less testing and more teaching could go a long way for many communities.