Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards unveiled a plan for education during a campaign stop Friday at Brody Middle School in Des Moines. The centerpiece of the Democratic candidate for president’s proposal is what he calls a "radical overhaul" of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Edwards voted for the act when he was in the Senate, but he says he’s changed his mind after talking with teachers and school administrators about the problems it creates. Edwards says the tests are "invasive," they don’t provide educators with good information, and the legislation doesn’t offer "real help to schools that are struggling." Edwards also says teachers need better pay and more training.
"Teachers today are under enormous pressure and stress," Edwards said, "because, number one – they’re underpaid, and number two – they don’t get the support they need with ongoing teacher training programs and help in the classroom." Sheree Mortiece, a teacher at Brody, says she’s glad to hear a candidate speak out against No Child Left Behind.
"A lot of us feel like it’s a very unfair approach to helping kids," Mortiece says, "it’s very much an unfunded mandate. It’s kind of created a culture of fear among teachers. It heavily emphasizes testing, so we’re testing kids to death." Mortiece says she’s undecided about which candidate to support, but is leaning toward Edwards.
Chuck Montgomery just retired after 30 years of teaching, and says he’s also thinking about supporting Edwards. Montgomery says, "I liked what I heard. I’m hearing a lot of support here against No Child Left Behind. I think that’s pretty universal among teachers anyway, and I was glad to hear Senator Edward express his opinion on that too."