BISD's Thomas front and center at White House speech
Beaumont Independent School District Superintendent Carrol Thomas had to leave a parents luncheon early Thursday in order too make a flight that would bring him to Washington D.C. where he was a guest of the White House as it announced major changes to the current No Child Left Behind Act.
The legislation, put into place during the George Bush administration, will now be changed to allow school districts across the country to opt-out of certain aspects if school district develop a plan to help low-performing schools.
"The president is right on target in what school districts across America need," Thomas said in a press release sent out by the school district. "More flexibility will help all of us in meeting and exceeding accountability standards. Public education here in Beaumont, throughout Texas and across our nation can do a better job of educating all children, including those who are poor, in special education programs, or with other challenges if we had flexibility in NCLB (No Child Left Behind). While Beaumont is doing well on most fronts, many school districts with similar student populations such as 70 percent or higher of economically disadvantaged students can’t say the same. However, just think, in Beaumont, if 95 percent of our students or our schools achieve at the top levels, as NCLB is now, we could be punished for what the five percent is doing instead of being rewarded for what the 95 percent achieved. Moving to a less punitive accountability program to one that helps us to be more diagnostic and individually prescriptive for students will help us in truly leaving no child behind and at the same time continue the improvements in academic achievement of all students."
President Obama told the crowd and those listening in that he needed to take action because Congress couldn't reach an agreement or get changes to the law passed.
"Congress hasn't been able to do it. So I will," Obama said during the press conference.
No Child Left Behind has been a thorn in the side of many school district's since its passage in 2001 and the changes being made are seen as a positive move by some. But there has been some criticism from congressional members, who said they were the only ones who could change the Act and doing so undermines Congressional authority.