U.S. Education Secretary calling for overhaul of No Child Left Behind Act

The nation's education secretary is on a mission. The No Child Left Behind Act isn't working, he says, and his call to rewrite it included a visit to San Diego. KUSI's Ed Lenderman reports on the details.

The fact that this country's education system is failing too many students isn't something we're just learning, but Wednesday we heard it's affecting our national security.

An education summit of sorts took place at Shoal Creek Elementary School in Poway Wednesday, a meeting of top educators from around the county headed by no less than U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Duncan wants the No Child Left Behind law overhauled and he wants it done before the start of next fall's school year.

The Bush administration's Signature School Accountability law is fundamentally flawed, says Duncan, and it's led to a narrowed curriculum, it's too focused on test scores and doesn't give enough flexibility to local educators.

The message was repeated during a visit to MCAS Miramar's new state of the art youth and teen center, which includes a pre-school for 48 children.

The Marine base provided a backdrop for how seriously we're falling behind other countries in education.

“It's stunning to me that only a quarter of our young people are qualified for the military, we have a 25-percent dropout rate in the country, in one generation we've gone from number one in the world in college graduates to ninth,” said Duncan.

You read right, 3 out of 4 young adults in this country aren't able to enter the military, mostly because they're deficient either mentally or physically.

The message at Miramar included the threat such a disturbing figure poses to the nation's long term security. As of now we are reaching our recruiting and retention goals simply because of our poor economy but when the economy improves they are predicting there will be a high competitiveness for that 25-percent.

Joining Duncan at the youth and teen center were several retired generals who are part of an organization promoting better education called, “Mission-Readiness.”

San Diego City Schools Superintendent Bill Kowba, a retired admiral, was also on hand, as were San Diego Congress people Duncan D. Hunter and Susan Davis, who say there is bipartisan support for the overhaul of No Child Left Behind.

If you're asking if we talked to the secretary about the impact of California's budget crisis on our local schools, we did.

Duncan acknowledged the tremendous challengers here, saying “the federal government certainly isn't going to be able to fill the whole, but we're trying to lead by example,” he said.

“We're going to invest where educators want real change and progress, that investment is not to maintain the status quo.”

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