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July 1, 2003, Extra Credit
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July 1, 2003
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No Child Left Behind: A Blueprint for Success
The following column by U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige appeared in today's Salem Statesman Journal:

In the wake of the recent announcement that every state in the country has developed a unique plan to implement the bold reforms of No Child Left Behind, it was surprising to read the Statesman Journal's recent editorial, "No Child Left Behind might hurt students" (June 19).

To the contrary, No Child Left Behind is providing a road map to high achievement for every American child, focusing on accountability for results, local control and flexibility, new options for parents, and programs that have been proven to work.

Your claim that Oregon hasn't seen any additional federal money as a result of No Child Left Behind is simply not true. In fact, federal funding for No Child Left Behind programs in Oregon has skyrocketed 56 percent since President Bush took office.

Oregon has already received more than $10.9 million to cover the cost of tests, and the state has also received a $48 million multiyear Reading First grant to help improve children's reading skills.

Your editorial also noted: "One of the biggest expenses will be training and retraining teachers." President Bush has made improving teacher quality a priority, and his budget for next year includes more than $3.7 billion to support teacher training programs and initiatives.

And while funding is certainly important, to focus on it exclusively misses the importance of the high standards, unprecedented flexibility and increased accountability that are the hallmarks of the law.

We would have seen success long ago if just increasing funding were the answer. During the past two decades, per-pupil spending has gone up, teacher salaries have gone up, classroom sizes have gotten smaller, and student achievement has remained as flat as a pancake.

No Child Left Behind, with its emphasis on programs that have been scientifically proven to work, is utilizing taxpayer dollars more wisely and more effectively than ever before. State and local leaders also have flexibility to target federal resources where they are needed most.

Over the years, billions of dollars have been spent to improve schools, but the key ingredient of accountability was too frequently missing. Now schools are rethinking the programs and resources that they use to educate students, choosing research-based practices to more effectively educate the students they serve.

Parents understand this. In a December 2002 poll, 66 percent said that high standards and accountability were more important to improving our schools than increased funding. The American people will spend roughly $470 billion on K-12 education this year. By injecting accountability, No Child Left Behind is helping to make sure students get the most out of that enormous investment.

As President Bush said recently, "It's an exciting time for American education. We're facing challenges, but we have the blueprint for success. The No Child Left Behind Act charts the way for a better tomorrow. Parents and teachers and principals and education chiefs are making good on our promise to leave no child behind. We will continue to stand with them as they help the next generation realize the greatness of our country."

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About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

If you would like the NCLB Extra Credit emailed to you, please send a request to Geoff Goodman at NoChildLeftBehindUpdate@ed.gov or call (202) 205-9191.

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Last Modified: 08/23/2003