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Black Caucus Members Defend House Draft

In response to one member's "strong concerns" about the House's NCLB draft, two members of the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday said that they like much of the proposal. They add that the caucus—known by its acronym, CBC—hasn't taken a position on the bill.

"While a quality education for all children is certainly a priority for all members of the CBC, we respect the right of each CBC member to evaluate the specific legislation as it moves through the legislative process and to take whatever final position he or she sees fit," Reps. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Va., and Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., write in a letter to all their House colleagues. "Therefore, there is no single CBC position on this issue."

Scott and Davis are the co-chairs of the black caucus' education committee, and both are members of the House Education and Labor Committee.

They go on to write that they like much of what's in the House draft. They believe it would improve teacher quality overall and attack the achievement gap by dealing with the inequitable distribution of high-quality teachers. The draft's proposed changes to AYP, they write, would be "innovative new models that continue to hold states accountable for the achievement of all students while rewarding the progress of all students." And the draft's proposed interventions to turn around schools would distinguish between "chronically underperforming" schools and those that need a little assistance.

Scott and Davis conclude that time is of the essence, and they want an NCLB bill to pass in the current Congress.

"Five years down the road, we may realize we did not create a perfect bill; few ever are," they write. "We may not embrace every element of the bill with open arms; however, we feel it would be a disservice to our children to ignore the deficiencies that we know exist, and we believe we would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to work together to try to correct them."

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