Following are excerpts from remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings delivered today at her swearing in ceremony attended by President Bush and other senior administration and congressional officials at the U.S. Department of Education's auditorium.
"Mr. President, your passion for education has become our policy; your belief that every child can learn has become our mission. When you signed No Child Left Behind into law three years ago, it was more than an Act; it was an attitude. An attitude that says it's right to measure our children's progress from year to year so we can help them before it's too late - an attitude that says expecting students to read and do math at grade level or better is not too much to ask.
"Mr. President, you had faith that our teachers, principals and administrators could make it happen. And your faith is being rewarded. Across the nation, test scores in reading and math are rising, with disadvantaged and minority students leading the way. Yes, after long decades, the pernicious achievement gap is beginning to close. We've learned a new equation: accountability plus high expectations plus resources equals results. We must stay the course.
"At the same time, we must work to close another gap -- the skills gap faced by our high school graduates. We must introduce the reforms of No Child Left Behind to our high schools, so that diplomas become tickets to success in the 21st Century.
"America enjoys many, many good schools and great teachers who share our passion and commitment to excellence. As someone who has worked for school boards, a state legislature and a Texas Governor, I know that many solutions can be found outside of Washington D.C. We will find and share them as we continue to build bridges to educators, public officials and parents.
"Finally, let me say a few words about this Department. One of the first things you notice is that there is no ivory tower. I pledge to run an open, honest and accessible Department - one that operates with integrity at all levels.
"I stand here today as a product of the public schools. I am also an education consumer -- the first mother of school-age children to serve as Secretary of Education. In carrying out my duties to the American people, I will be carrying out my duties as a mom. And there is none more important than to provide a quality education to our children. Thank you. "
Secretary Spellings remarks are available online.
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