March 19, 2004, Extra Credit
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March 19, 2004
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 March 18
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The Key to it All is the Teacher

On Monday of this week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it is providing more flexibility for rural teachers, science teachers, and multi-subject teachers to demonstrate that they are highly qualified. The following are excerpts from Secretary of Education Rod Paige's remarks at this announcement:

"These new common-sense policies resulted from our cooperative effort with the states. They will help teachers to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind, and, most importantly, will help ensure that students are not left behind...We are serious about making sure that every student, including poor and disadvantaged students, has a highly qualified teacher."

"The No Child Left Behind Act is still in its early years. It was only nine months ago that every state met the deadline for an approved accountability plan. With those plans in place at the beginning of this school year, we set out to understand the challenges of practical implementation.

"This commitment resulted in an unprecedented partnership with states and districts. Through a series of conversations, summits, roundtables and visits with state chiefs, district superintendents, teachers and parents, we were able to recognize common themes and challenges. Then we responded--both quickly and substantively--to what we saw and heard. In December, we announced that special education students would have new flexibility in meeting the law's testing requirements. And last month, limited English proficient students received new flexibility as well.

"Today, we are addressing the highly qualified teacher provisions in that same spirit. Under No Child Left Behind, our nation made a commitment to ensuring that every student has a great teacher. States are now preparing to meet the 2005-06 school year deadline for ensuring that all teachers are highly qualified. Now, nearly two years ahead of this deadline, we are addressing some of the specific challenges faced by teachers in some of the most high-need areas.

"These flexibility policies will help address the unique challenges faced by teachers in rural districts and schools, science teachers, and current teachers who teach more than one subject. These policies will help us keep our promise to provide each and every child a great teacher, because we know how vital a role teachers play in student success. Of course, parents and the community play an important role, but when I was superintendent, I told my teachers: 'They are ours as soon as they walk in our door.' I meant it. Schools cannot lessen the burdens some children must bear outside of school. But, we can affect academic achievement, and that is where we must exert our influence. Research and experience have shown that a good school can make a difference in the lives of its students. That must be the driving force--our motto--every day. And the key to it all is the teacher."


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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.

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013