Rapid City, SD – U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today brought together educators from Rapid City, Spearfish, and Lead to hear their experiences with the No Child Left Behind law firsthand. Johnson has been reaching out to education leaders across the state for their input as Congress considers comprehensive reforms to the law.
“I want to make sure that any federal changes to our education system take into account the voices of South Dakotans,” said Johnson. “To understand the benefits and the many shortcomings of No Child Left Behind, we need to listen to our teachers and administrators who have to work within the law every day.”
Johnson has said the waivers made available by the U.S. Department of Education provide schools relief from the more unworkable aspects of this law and should act as a bridge to more comprehensive reforms. During the meeting, Johnson talked with educators about the state’s plans to submit an NCLB flexibility waiver. Some of the educators talked about their experiences working closely with the South Dakota Department of Education to create new state accountability standards and their work to help develop the state’s waiver application. Johnson said it is important that national education reform reflect the innovative work happening on the ground at the local and state level.
Last fall, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee took the first steps to comprehensively reform the No Child Left Behind law by passing bipartisan reforms. The legislation now moves to the full Senate, and Johnson has called for consideration of this reform as soon as possible.
“The Black Hills area education leaders today stressed the need for education policies that give them the necessary flexibility and support to close achievement gaps and achieve high standards. It’s time to make long overdue changes to No Child Left Behind,” Johnson continued.
Johnson was joined today by Tim Mitchell, Superintendent, Rapid City Area Schools; Lorenzo Bettelyoun, Director, Indian Education Programs, Rapid City Area Schools; Amelia Rose, South Dakota National Certified Teacher, Rapid City; Alayna Siemonsma, South Dakota National Certified Teacher, Rapid City; Jeff Nelson, President, Rapid City Board of Education; Steve Morford, Principal, Spearfish High School, Nick Gottlob, Principal, Lead-Deadwood High School and Sue Podoll, President, Rapid City Education Association.
Johnson has been a longtime supporter of initiatives that reduce classroom size, fully fund the federal obligation to special education, repair crumbling schools, and give teachers the tools they need to help children succeed. Johnson has held similar No Child Left Behind listening sessions in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls.