Can you imagine teaching in North Dakota? Evidently not enough teachers can since they and other sparsely populated states are having major problems trying to attract the "highly qualified" kind that are required under NCLB. It doesn’t help that the average starting pay in North Dakota is the lowest in the US but that’s only one element holding back the effort to persuade teachers to move to the state. Even 2/3 of the students who graduate from college in the state don’t want to stay.

So should states like North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota be allowed to exercise some flexibility in the NCLB rules? Or should the Federal government provide the money necessary to lure qualified teachers to these rural areas? The answer to these questions depends on whether you believe in national educational standards (like W and friends) or whether it’s every state for themselves (like W and friends).