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NCLB on Letterman

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It's already starting! Al Franken, who is challenging Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, for his Senate seat in the swing state of Minnesota, showed up on David Letterman on Tuesday night ... and bashed No Child Left Behind! On late night TV! Shockingly, Letterman wasn't nearly as excited as I was .... he seemed only slightly more amused than Jon Stewart did when Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings brought up "growth models" during her appearance on the Daily Show last year.

Franken was much wonkier (and not nearly as entertaining) as a senate candidate than as a comedian. I think he's trying to show his serious side. Still, it does look like education is going to be a central part of his campaign - and, hopefully, Coleman's. Franken's even got an ad featuring his fourth-grade teacher, which he played during the show.

We've already written about the differences between Franken and Coleman on the NCLB law. Franken brought up many concerns folks on the left (and some on the right) have already voiced about NCLB, namely that it narrows curriculum and forces to teachers to "teach to the test." Even though such criticisms are nothing new for those of us who closely follow federal education policy, it's good to see these issues talked about outside of a congressional hearing room or National School Boards Association conference - particularly since there's been so little discussion of them in the presidential campaign.

It's probably too much to hope that Coleman will show up Leno next week, talking about voluntary national standards and tests...right?

UPDATE: You can watch most of Franken's appearence on Youtube here, but unfortunately, the clip doesn't include the full segment with his NCLB remarks. We're still searching for a full video clip.

1 Comment

Here is the link to the part about NCLB:

I just wanted to say that I am super excited to see this kind of attitude in politics. I feel that he truly cares about what he is saying [specifically, in regards to education] as opposed to so many politicians who maybe see the topic as a necessary evil. While I do think that the people who created programs like NCLB likely had good intentions, they seem to miss the mark completely when they put the concept together. Al was SO right on about the example of his former teacher and the student that she helped-- when educators are dealing with large classes of students that each have their own sets of challenges (home, life, etc)- and then we ADD to that by forcing students that need extra time and attention into "main stream", it put too much pressure on our educators (who are mostly underpaid at that!!)and all of the students! I do agree that there needs to be processes in place that encourages students with learning challenges to find that motivation to succeed, but I don't think that NCLB is it, and I don't think that it is fair to overload the educators and expect them to manage to "teach to test" and still make that special, personal impact on many of them that Al (and many of us!) experienced... And honestly it isn't fair to the students either!

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