Senator Lincoln Hosts "Conversation on Education" at ASU

February 20, 2007--Posted at 1:30 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR--A "Conversation on Education" that was the theme for United States Senator Blanche Lincoln's current tour of Arkansas, which kicked off Tuesday morning in Jonesboro.

The veteran lawmaker made a breakfast stop at Arkansas State University to meet with area educators on what changes they feel need to be made to the system.

Senator Lincoln's tour stop in Jonesboro featured the federal ' No Child Left Behind' act as one of the main topics.

"I think "No Child Left Behind" because it was so under funded, unfortunately it has become more of a noose around peoples neck than the enabler we wanted it to be," said Senator Lincoln.

With the number of standards associated with the program teachers like Brookland's Bob Rahrle feel "No Child Left Behind" needs an overhaul.

"Let's worry about improvement and how we can improve kids as we go through instead of getting everyone up to the same standard, which I think is impossible," said Rahrle.

Educators say with the number of standardized tests and regulations, it is harder than ever to be a teacher. Combine that with poor pay and ASU education student Audra Farmer feels less college students are choosing teaching as a career.

"There are no teachers. They are begging people to come there," said Farmer.

The state of Arkansas is already suffering through a teacher shortage and that gap will be created even more with the number of retiring teachers from the Baby Boomer generation.

That's why Senator Lincoln believes it's of the utmost importance that we find new ways to attract and maintain the current teachers we have in the system.

"One of the things I have been working on is tax incentives," said Lincoln.

While each teacher and administrator had issues important to them, all in attendance feel the bottom line is the "bottom line."

"I think the biggest problem is lack of support from government entities that should be financially supporting us," said Rahrle.

After the government shorted schools more than 70 billion dollars for "No Child Left Behind," Senator Lincoln agrees to make education work, we have to spend money.

"It's an investment in our future, this country, most importantly it's an investment in our greatest resource our children," said Lincoln.

After leaving Jonesboro Tuesday morning, Lincoln hosted other open forums Tuesday in Marion and Little Rock.