New York's newest U.S. senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, couldn't have been more clear on her view of No Child Left Behind.
"We need to fix it and fund it - or we need to get rid of it," she said, to much applause.
Gillibrand said educators tell her NCLB's current emphasis on standardized testing to determine adequate yearly progress doesn't reflect true progress or what students really know.
The current law underserves English language learners and students with special needs, she said. "It doesn't recognize the extra investment and additional teacher time these students need," she said. "We want to give every child a chance to succeed."
Gillibrand said she and Sen. Chuck Schumer would keep working as a team to make sure New York gets its fair share of federal funding.
She said the recent stimulus plan will bring millions to New York for education and economic development, promoting economic growth with major projects like high-speed rail and rural broadband.
When she was appointed to fill the seat that opened up when Hillary Clinton was named U.S. secretary of state, Gillibrand said one of her first votes was to provide 11 million uninsured children access to health coverage.
As Congress debates other health care initiatives in the coming months, Gillibrand is backing a "Medicare for All" system offered by a non-profit company. She also supports passage of the Employee Free Choice Act to make sure everyone who wants to join a union is able to.
- Sylvia Saunders