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Overhauling No Child Left Behind

The Obama administration has begun the effort of overhauling the Bush-era school reform, No Child Left Behind. The White House wants to change the school accountability system that has failed in over one-third of schools, including some schools that made gains but did not meet annual targets.

The administration envisions great changes. No Child Left Behind encourages schools to better their test scores every year so that all students can read and do math on their particular grade level. Obama wants to see more competitive grants with his Race to the Top proposal . Changing the long-standing funding formulas, of how money is distributed based on the number of poor students may be challenging to get passed through Congress.

Re-authorization may be difficult; given how argumentative negotiations will become and the fact this is an election year. If Congress does happen to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, Obama has committed to asking for an additional $1 billion in competitive grants.

The latest budget suggested by Obama called for a freeze on a lot of non-defense spending with education being the major exception. The proposed increase of six percent shows the importance of education to the administration and how the president as well as the Secretary of Education hopes to get it changed.

Overall, Obama wants federal education spending to be competitive so it will drive schools and states to be better, rather than rely on formulas that give them a certain amount of funds regardless of how well the kids are educated. The White House insists the projected budget will make the spending of K-12 more competitive and plans to have the Race to the Top carved out from the economic stimulus.