NCLB Listening and Learning Tour

U.S. Department of Education

Across the country and online, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is seeking the best ideas for the next generation of school reform.

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The Challenge

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has squelched innovation and failed to advance key education reforms. The Act’s upcoming reauthorization creates an opportunity to reshape the law to ensure it provides accurate information about the performance of schools or the achievement of students, offers incentives for the best teachers and principals to work in the toughest schools, and gives districts the resources they need to turn around their lowest-performing schools. Secretary Duncan wants to get the reauthorization right, and he knows the best ideas don’t come from Washington.

The Solution

Secretary Duncan embarked on a Listening and Learning Tour to hear the ideas of educators.

The Secretary has attended conferences, toured schools, eaten lunch with school children, and held informal conversations with teachers in a coffee shop. He has heard from teachers at several stops that we need to improve the quality of teacher preparation programs. He also has seen how local community groups and public schools are working together to broaden the services available to students. After successfully launching the tour, the Secretary assigned senior members of his team to conduct listening and learning events. By the end of 2009, the Secretary or a senior staff member will have visited all 50 states and heard the public’s input about the future of NCLB.

The Secretary and his staff regularly reflect on what they’ve heard on the department’s blog and extend the conversation by accepting comments. More than 500 people have written comments on these posts. In response to online comments, the Secretary has reached out to continue the conversation with key stakeholders. For example, a comment by a high-school world history teacher in Princeton, Texas, prompted a call from the Secretary to learn more about his suggestions for how to achieve higher academic standards.

The Benefit

The Listening and Learning Tour has reinforced the Secretary’s belief that Americans understand that our country must educate its way to a better economy. He has learned that people want national leadership on education but not at the expense of local control.

The Secretary also values what he’s heard from students. On an Indian reservation in Montana, 9th grader Teton Magpie told him that adults don’t expect enough of them and that standards should be higher. The specific ideas of Teton Magpie and other members of the public will help Secretary Duncan and his staff draft their proposal to reauthorize NCLB. The input from educators and the general public will be a valuable contribution to the Obama administration’s effort to ensure that NCLB works better for students.

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