Leading up to the release of Oregon schools' initial rankings under the No Child Left Behind Act, Ashland School Board President Mat Marr said the 2002 federal law is "fundamentally flawed.

"The law doesn't look at students as individuals, and that's where No Child Left Behind fails," Marr said in an interview Tuesday.

Marr stopped short of saying that Congress should jettison No Child Left Behind when it expires, saying Congress ought to make significant changes to the landmark school accountability law as it begins to debate its reauthorization.

State Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, agrees. Buckley, chairman of the House Education Committee, said today that No Child Left Behind is a "terrible law with good intent.

"We need to scrap No Child Left Behind and start over," Buckley said. "It's not benefiting schools and it's done more damage than good."

Enthusiastically championed by President Bush and equally derided by some teachers' groups, the law is aimed at improving the nation's public school system and bringing all U.S. students up to proficiency by 2014 in math, reading and writing.

So not to run the risk of being labeled "inadequate" by the federal government, teachers have been forced to "teach to the test," Buckley said, adding, "that is no way to have to teach."

Asked about Ashland's schools, Marr, who took over as school board chairman in July, said, "We do better than most of the state, but we still want to make more progress."

He said along with stringent benchmarks that the federal law sets should come adequate funding so teachers have the tools they need to help bring struggling students up to grade level.

He said the law also should come with incentives for schools that raise their test scores, cautioning that standardized test scores are not the only measure of a well performing school.

"The biggest flaw with No Child Left Behind is that it needs some carrots coupled with the stick," Marr said.

Last year, in their fourth rating, 373 Oregon schools fell short of meeting federal standards, including Ashland Middle School, which failed for not making "adequate yearly progress" for special education students.

Marr suggested wryly that voters ought to turn the tables on Congress and impose scorecards for the federal government on such things as ethics and the Iraq war.

"Maybe after two years of no improvement we'll yank their funding," he quipped.