(U.S. SENATE) – As Congress prepares to debate the future of the controversial No Child Left Behind law, Senator Jon Tester today brought together the Secretary of Education and educators from across Montana to discuss challenges facing Montana’s schools.

Tester hosted Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Montana school officials to discuss issues ranging from a lack of education resources in rural communities to early childhood education.

Tester pointed to what he calls the “flawed one size fits all” approach of the federal No Child Left Behind policy, and the need to reform it to fit the needs of rural America. The law, enacted in 2001, is expected to be revised in the next two years.

“Today, Montanans got to speak directly to the country’s leader on education, and tell him how to make education policy work for schools from Scobey to Bozeman—not just for schools in Chicago or Detroit,” Tester said. “Moving forward, I’m going to make sure Montanans have a seat at the table as we decide how to reform education, and to make sure our kids are getting the tools they need to keep creating jobs and business in Montana.”

Tester is a former elementary school teacher and school board member from Big Sandy, Montana.

Montanans participating in today’s discussion included:
· Rhonda McCarty from Valley View Elementary School, Great Falls
· Kirk Miller from Bozeman High School
· George Rider from Scobey High School
· Darrell Rud, Executive Director of the Montana School Administrators
· Diane Fladmo with the Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers
· Janine Pease, Cabinet Head for Education with the Crow Tribe
· Newton Old Crow, Jr., Adult Vocation Education Coordinator with the Crow Tribe

The Montana educators also discussed with Duncan the challenges facing schools in Indian Country, as well as the importance of professional development for principals, administrators and teachers.

Tester previously hosted Duncan on a tour of Montana schools in 2009—the first time an Education Secretary visited Montana in more than a decade.