Educators ready for Clinton
Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton reads "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Suess as fifth grader Zoe Mauck, right, listens Monday, March 26, 2007, at Greenwood Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Clinton (D) Senator, New York
Born: 10/26/1947
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Home: Chappaqua, NY
Religion: Methodist
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PORTSMOUTH -- When Sen. Hillary Clinton meets with the members of the National Education Association-New Hampshire this afternoon, local educators will be carefully listening.

University of New Hampshire education professor Todd DeMitchell would like to hear Clinton pledge more money for early childhood education.

"The more support we could have for Head Start and early literacy for children, I think that's a wise investment of federal dollars," he said.

Clinton is scheduled to speak at the annual meeting in Concord of NEA-NH, a group whose endorsement is highly sought. Past speakers at the meeting include Gov. John Lynch, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

DeMitchell said he hoped Clinton would support increasing funding for special education and making the No Child Left Behind Act more flexible.

He called the act "important but cumbersome" because administrators spend so much time dealing with regulations.

"Nobody ever reduces regulations; they just pile them on top of each other," he said. "There are ways they could be streamlined so we spend more of our resources on ... where the children are in the classroom."

Kevin Fleming, a social studies teacher at Winnacunnet High School, also wants to hear what Clinton has to say about No Child Left Behind. The controversial education act is an issue the campaign says Clinton will likely address and that as a senator, she has pushed the federal government to fully fund the program.

Fleming, who is an NEA-NH liaison to the national organization, said he agrees with the union position of fully funding the program and fixing what the group sees as its problem, most importantly over testing of students and the requirement to prove local teachers are highly qualified. The state has its own policy for evaluating teacher adequacy, said Fleming, and should not be forced to add more regulation.

"The highly qualified fight is like jumping through hoops for New Hampshire because we already have that covered," he said.

Besides discussing the education system, Fleming said he will want to hear Clinton address other issues that tangentially affect the success of students.

"I want to know, does she understand education is not only about education, it's about what goes on in the home?" he asked. "As much as we'll talk about No Child Left Behind, we also know it comes down to other issues like a decent wage, affordable housing and support for parents."