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Duckworth outlines steps that can be taken to improve education: Receives endorsements from two statewide teachers groups

Thanks the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers for their endorsement

BLOOMINGDALE Sixth District Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth today called for three major steps to improve education including much needed changes to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, proper funding levels to meet the NCLB standards and graduated loan forgiveness programs for teachers.

“What happens in our classrooms today will hold the key to advances in science, medicine and technology for the country tomorrow.  In order to compete in the global marketplace, we must stand up and fight for our young people, to give them every educational opportunity they deserve,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth made her comments today with members of the Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers who have both given their endorsement to Duckworth.  The groups represent a combined total of over 200,000 educators across Illinois.

Giving local schools and districts needed flexibility in response to strict federal rules: As part of her commitment to giving local districts and schools new authority in response to strict federal rules, Duckworth offered her support for two pieces of legislation currently pending in Congress.  The first is a bill introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) which would give schools additional time to reach 100 percent proficiency and allow students with disabilities to be assessed on an Individualized Education Program and the second is a bill introduced by Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) to give states flexibility to use additional academic indicators in addition to test scores to measure AYP (S. 1690; H.R. 1506).

“The strict, one-size fits-all approach under the No Child Left Behind Act doesn’t offer the flexibility that our local schools, teachers and parents need.  The fact that schools in our District are on the “watch list” shows that current adequate yearly progress (AYP) rules are sorely in need of flexibility,” she said.  “In our community, too many good schools and their resources are at risk and it’s time for real relief and results for students in the Sixth District.”

Duckworth noted that in some cases, the test scores are the results of a handful of students, sometimes students with special needs, performing on highly-regimented tests. 

“Each and every one of these students deserves attention and the chance to develop at their own pace.  However, by emphasizing the tests alone, students with individual needs may go without the help they need and deserve, putting the entire school at risk,” she said.

Proper funding for No Child Left Behind: Tammy also voiced her concern over NCLB as an unfunded mandate. 

“I think it’s wrong when Washington tells state and local governments to change the way they do business-- but fails to give them resources to achieve that end,” said Duckworth.  “The No Child Left Behind Act raised the standards for education but didn’t raise support to public schools.” 

Duckworth cited the budget proposed this year by the Bush Administration that contains a nationwide shortfall of $ 15.4 billion in funding for NCLB, representing a $530 million shortfall in Illinois-- affecting approximately 159,000 Illinois school children.

Encouraging young people to enter the field: Additionally, she addressed ways that the federal government can encourage young people to join the ranks of America’s teachers.

“We should explore graduated loan forgiveness programs for teachers, that would help defray the costs resulting from their graduate studies or professional programs, once they have worked in the teaching profession for a set number of years,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth thanked the members of the IFT and IEA groups for their endorsements.

She added that the teachers’ groups support for her campaign is a symbol of “our shared support of our young people as they pursue their goals.”



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