Former governor recommends revising No Child Left Behind | AspenTimes.com

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Former governor recommends revising No Child Left Behind

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Former Gov. Roy Romer, in Aspen for a fundraiser Sunday for state Senate candidate Gail Schwartz, criticized the No Child Left Behind Act, which current Gov. Bill Owens endorsed.The three-term governor is a friend of Schwartz, a longtime Snowmass Village resident, and is acting as her “honorary” campaign chairman. Schwartz, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Lewis Entz of Hooper in District 5, which includes Pitkin County. Entz is a 22-year state senator.Romer, who will retire in September from his job as superintendent of the Los Angeles School District, said the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act is underfunded and in need of revision. The act’s intention of measuring student progress and holding schools accountable “is the right goal,” Romer said.”We do need a federal government that does have expectations of performance, and they ought to assist states in making authentic assessments and measurement of that,” he said. “But the law has become very, very inadequate.”Romer, nationally recognized in the political world, flew in Sunday afternoon from Los Angeles for the private fundraiser at the West End home of Tom and Vivian Waldeck.”I love Aspen. I know the town quite well,” Romer said.

Romer, who Schwartz said is “beloved” in the state, was expected to speak at the fund-raiser. The evening was also to benefit his son, Chris Romer, who is running for a state Senate seat in Denver. His position as Schwartz’s campaign chairman is merely “honorary because I believe so much in her contribution,” he said.Schwartz said Romer has expertise in rural issues, in particular. He has no trouble striking up conversations with salt-of-the-earth types because “people thought they had somebody they could relate to,” she said. Their friendship dates to 1995, when he appointed Schwartz to a spot on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.”I knew the quality of contributions she could make, and she really proved me right,” Romer said. “When I heard she was running for state Senate, I obviously wanted to come support her. Now look, I also want a Democratic majority in the state Senate. That’s a very critical thing for Colorado.”Officials have dropped “support of education in this state way too low. We just need to get with the program and support education better, and Gail and others are going to do that.”Schwartz cited her experience of 10 years at state levels of higher education and a pre-collegiate program she helped start at the University of Colorado for students who are the first in their family to contemplate college.

The “first generational students are mostly minority students,” she said. About 170 students in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are now enrolled in a pre-collegiate program.”Basalt was only graduating 17 percent of its Latino males,” Schwartz said.In pre-collegiate programs, “we start with students in sixth grade. We meet with them every single month, with the student and their parents, until [graduation]. And 96 percent gosee schwartz on page A7on to college,” she said.Romer said Schwartz, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, understands the importance of education, especially kindergarten through 12th grade.

“This is where I value Gail so much,” he said. “All of our educational system is based on the quality of how well we do on a K-12 system. The nation needs to make a larger investment in K-12.”All of our jobs are going to go to India and China if we’re not careful.”Schwartz said the Roaring Fork Valley shares many concerns with the district’s other counties, including water use and rights, affordable housing for workers and pressures of growth.”I feel like I can represent the entire district really well,” she said. Schwartz said she and Romer would likely take a road trip to some of the sprawling district’s 11 counties.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com