By Patricia Zengerle
ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) - President Barack Obama called on Congress on Monday to overhaul his Republican predecessor's signature "No Child Left Behind" education law before the next school year begins in September.
Former President George W. Bush pushed for "No Child," enacted in 2002, to upgrade education by making schools accountable for students' performance and forcing reforms on schools that do not meet sets of standards
The law has been criticized as inflexible, forcing teachers to adhere to a narrow curriculum targeted mostly at ensuring that every student pass a series of standardized tests.
Obama administration officials have been meeting with congressional officials to reach a compromise on a redo of the law. Monday's speech at a Virginia school marked the first time Obama has set a timeline for a new law.
"Our kids only get one shot at an education, and we've got to get it right. So that's why I'm calling on Congress to send me an education reform bill I can sign into law before the next school year begins," Obama said.
He said No Child needs to be altered to give schools the resources they need to improve, including the pay and support that teachers need.
"We've got to start valuing our great teachers," Obama said.
Democrat Obama is engaged in a tough fight with Republicans over how to deal with the yawning U.S. budget deficit.
"Right now, we're sitting down with Republicans and Democrats to find ... ways to get our deficits under control," Obama said.
"But even as we do, we can't be reckless and we can't be irresponsible about how we cut. Let me make it plain: We cannot cut education. We can't cut the things that will make America more competitive," Obama said.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)