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Entenza says he would pull state out of No Child Left Behind

One of Matt Entenza's first actions as governor would be to pull Minnesota out of the No Child Left Behind program, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said today in Duluth.

"We need to scrap No Child Left Behind and set real accountability standards that will help our kids achieve," he said.

Dropping out of the federal program is one of several parts of Entenza's education plans, details of which he released at an 11 a.m. news conference before Duluth's Historic Old Central High School. He will hold additional news conferences later in St. Paul and Rochester.

Other cornerstones of Entenza's plan include:

* Helping teachers through effective mentoring programs and more professional assistance. Too many teachers leave the field during their first five years, Entenza said.

* Rebuilding the state's education system through innovation and collaboration. Examples would include forming partnerships with private foundations and forming a research center to evaluate the effectiveness of new teaching methods.

* Using technology, such as Internet-based distance learning, to increase educational opportunities.

"My preference would be to have a real teacher in the classroom," but many rural schools cannot afford to have specialized teachers, Entenza said.

"We're developing a two-tier educational system," he said, with wealthy school districts able to afford enough teachers to provide a quality education while rural and poorer districts are laying off language, math and science teachers.

Entenza acknowledged that Minnesota's budget problems create difficulties and noted that his plan calls for political and policy changes to be done soon so that the education system will be positioned to quickly improve as the economy does.

Entenza is in a three-way race for August's DFL primary. Also running are Mark Dayton and Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the party's endorsed candidate.

Steve Kuchera is a reporter at the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.