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‘No Child Left Behind’ needs improved but not scrapped

President Barack Obama has made one thing clear about his approach to schools — he prefers offering carrots over whacking them with a stick in pursuit of change. That approach could be in for a big test.

The president hinted at major changes to No Child Left Behind, the Bush-era federal education law, in the budget he released this week. …

But the president has a challenge — pushing new ideas while also keeping together the parts of No Child Left Behind that were revolutionary and truly improved schools. …

President Obama wants to reduce some of the heat No Child Left Behind has put on schools. He’s proposing dropping the 2014 proficiency requirement and creating new labels that go beyond pass and fail to recognize more levels of progress. Schools would be measured instead against a yet-undefined goal that kids leave school “college- and career-ready.” …

In place of new demands, he’s offered financial incentives, using stimulus dollars.

In the past year, the nation’s schools received about $100 billion in stimulus aid, primarily to prevent deep cuts caused by the recession.

… Care must be taken not to penalize kids just because their schools aren’t good at writing grant proposals. President Obama needs to make good on his campaign promise to “mend” not “end” No Child Left Behind.

Dayton Daily News, Feb. 6