The following are excerpts from President George W. Bushs comments regarding No Child Left Behind at his press conference last night:
QUESTION: "Mr. President, you've made No Child Left Behind a big part of your education agenda. The nation's largest teachers union has filed suit against it, saying it's woefully inadequately funded. What's your response to that? And do you think that No Child Left Behind is working?"
THE PRESIDENT: "Yes, I think it's working. And the reason why I think it's working is because we're measuring, and the measurement is showing progress toward teaching people how to read and write and add and subtract. Listen, the whole theory behind No Child Left Behind is this: if we're going to spend federal money, we expect the states to show us whether or not we're achieving simple objectives — like literacy, literacy in math, the ability to read and write. And, yes, we're making progress. And I can say that with certainty because we're measuring. "
"Look, I'm a former governor, I believe states ought to control their own destiny when it comes to schools. They are by far the biggest funder of education, and it should remain that way. But we spend a lot of money here at the federal level and have increased the money we spend here quite dramatically at the federal level. And we changed the policy: instead of just spending money and hope for the best, we're now spending money and saying, measure.
"And some people don't like to measure. But if you don't measure, how do you know whether or not you've got a problem in a classroom? I believe it's best to measure early and correct problems early, before it's too late. That's why as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act we had money available for remedial education. In other words, we said we're going to measure, and when we detect someone who needs extra help, that person will get extra help. But, absolutely, it's a good piece of legislation. I will do everything I can to prevent people from unwinding it, by the way."
"I've heard some states say, well, we don't like it. Well, you know, my attitude about not liking it is this: If you teach a child to read and write, it shouldn't bother you whether you measure. That's all we're asking. The system for too long had just shuffled children through and just hoped for the best. And guess what happened? We had people graduating from high school who were illiterate — and that's just not right in America. It wasn't working. And so I came to Washington and worked with both Republicans and Democrats — this is a case where bipartisanship was really working well. And we said, look, we're going to spend more money at the federal level."
"But we said, let's change the attitude. We ought to start with the presumption every child can learn, not just some; and, therefore, if you believe every child can learn, then you ought to expect every classroom to teach. I hear feedback from No Child Left Behind, by the way — and, admittedly, I get the cook's tour, sometimes — but I hear teachers talk to me about how thrilled they are with No Child Left Behind; they appreciate the fact that the system now shows deficiencies early so they can correct those problems. And it is working.
The Presidents comments are available online.
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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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