In his weekly address, President Obama praised the progress that schools like Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis have made, and he called on Congress to fix No Child Left Behind this year. To strengthen education in this country, we need to encourage reforms not driven by Washington, but by principals and parents so schools can determine what is best for their kids. And that is why it is so important that Congress replace No Child Left Behind this year, so that schools have that flexibility. Reform just cannot wait.
The idea is simple: if states show that they’re serious about reform, we’ll show them the money. And it’s already making a difference throughout the country. In Tennessee, where I met those students, they’ve launched an innovative residency program so that new teachers can be mentored by veteran educators. In Oregon, Michigan and elsewhere, grants are supporting the work of teachers who are lengthening the school day, offering more specialized classes, and making the changes necessary to improve struggling schools.
Our challenge now is to allow all fifty states to benefit from the success of Race to the Top. We need to promote reform that gets results while encouraging communities to figure out what’s best for their kids. That why it’s so important that Congress replace No Child Left Behind this year – so schools have that flexibility. Reform just can’t wait.
And if anyone doubts this, they ought to head to Booker T. Washington High. They ought to meet the inspiring young people who overcame so much, and worked so hard, to earn their diplomas – in a school that believed in their promise and gave them the opportunity to succeed. We need to give every child in America that chance. That’s why education reform matters.