IMPROVE: GUAM'S SCHOOLS MUST MEET STANDARDS

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EDITORIAL

Pacific Daily News Hagatnaa, Guam

December 26, 2001

OR FACE SANCTIONS FROM FEDS

Guam's Department of Education will have to meet federal standards for student performance and teacher quality after Congress passed the "No Child Left Behind" Act last week. Bush is expected to sign it into law in early January.

The education reform measure aims to raise reading and math skills for all students within 12 years, which will be measured by annual testing, and assure all teachers are qualified to teach their subject areas.

Guam students routinely have lacked an adequate supply of up-to-date textbooks and other classroom materials, and have regularly scored low on national standardized tests.

Politicians routinely emphasize the importance of education during election time, but rarely, if ever, do anything of substance to address the problems and even less frequently follow up to ensure the quality of education has improved.

The education department, over the years, has put together numerous task forces and formulated innumerable plans to improve education but stopped short of implementation in most instances.

Now, a line has been drawn in the sand, a more demanding challenge issued, actually more of an order: Leave no child behind.

Our educational system already has left too many children behind. Guam's education and elected officials now have to answer that challenge head-on, and now.

They must dump their attitudes of indifference to our children and actually honor their commitments toward education.

No longer will empty promises and unacted-upon plans be acceptable. Now, action and results will be measured.

If schools fail to meet standards, they may be sanctioned by the federal government, which could include staff replacement, a change to the curriculum or converting failing schools into charter schools. And federal money could be spent transporting low-income students to non-failing schools.

The time has come to forge standards of excellence in both curriculum and personnel and establish a system that prepares our students to face their future.

The bell has been rung. Let's get started.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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