About one-hundred Iowa educators are in Orlando, Florida, for the National Education Association conference. Among them, Linda Nelson is president of the Iowa State Education Association. Nelson says one hot topic being discussed during the N-E-A meeting is the “No Child Left Behind” Act, which was laid out in the first days of the Bush Administration and became law in 2002.

Nelson, who’s from Council Bluffs, says the N-E-A put a committee together two years ago to look the act over carefully to determine where significant changes needed to be made. Amendments were added and an overwhelming majority of the nine-thousand member assembly endorsed the plan. No Child Left Behind is due for re-authorization in 2007. Nelson says she was not surprised that some 70-percent of the membership endorsed the plan. She says the act has good intentions and needs to be kept in place, with some changes.

She says “All students must have access to quality programs and services that meet their full range of needs. In this way, they can come to school every day and they’ll be able to learn. We feel there should be high expectations and standards. We should have rigorous and comprehensive curriculum for all students and there must be quality conditions for teaching too in every school.”

The act re-authorized the main federal law affecting education from kindergarten through high school and is built on four principles: accountability for results, more choices for parents, greater local control and flexibility, and an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research.

Nelson says the law is about accountability and they support that, but they believe there is more than one way to measure performance and accountability and they’d like more flexibility. She says other important issues being discussed at this year’s national convention are teacher recruitment and education funding. The meeting opened last Friday and is scheduled to close today (Wednesday).