On Thursday, Deputy Secretary Ray Simon will attend the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Education in the Western Hemisphere in Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago. The meeting is held under the aegis of the Organization of American States. The following op-ed, written by Secretary Margaret Spellings, appears in Caribbean Net News (8-10):
"Educators in Latin America and the Caribbean are not alone in confronting challenges to improve their education systems. In the United States, we share the same vision as our friends in the Western Hemisphere: to ensure educational excellence for every child. By sharing our experiences, we can strengthen our efforts to reach the goal of better education for all.
In 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, which pledged record financial support to improving testing, accountability, professional development for teachers and research-based instruction to ensure educational excellence for every child. The No Child Left Behind Act has led to higher standards by demanding greater accountability from school districts in the United States.
On August 11-12, Ministers of Education in the Western Hemisphere will meet in Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago to strengthen our hemispheric commitment of working together toward greater accountability in our education systems, and toward improving the quality of education throughout the region. This meeting comes at a time when all the democratically elected heads of state of the Western Hemisphere are preparing to meet in November at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina to focus on creating jobs to fight poverty and strengthen democratic governance.
Education obviously plays a key role in accomplishing these goals. Quality education for all is a recipe for growth and innovation, economic and social development, democracy, and respect for human rights.
When governments dedicate their efforts and resources to improving the quality of education for all their citizens, they are also investing in the development of a workforce with the tools to be competitive in today’s global marketplace. Caring about quality education for our children is not only good for their individual futures – it is good for our nations’ economic futures.
The Summits of the Americas have laid out a relevant and vital agenda for improving education in the region. I am confident that the Ministers of Education of the Americas are equally committed to achieving the goals that not only make education a priority in our countries, but a cornerstone of our democracies and a key element in our shared fight against poverty."
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