May 5, 2003, Extra Credit
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May 5, 2003
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Manchester Union Leader Likes What it Hears From "Straight Talker" Rod Paige; Says Parents and Taxpayers Should be Encouraged
Following is the text of an editorial from Sunday's Manchester Union Leader:

Education excuses: Dr. Paige doesn't buy them

WE LIKED A LOT of what the U.S. Secretary of Education had to say last Friday morning in Manchester. We trust the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce business audience, there to honor local educators and school volunteers, was paying close attention.

Secretary Rod Paige ticked off half a dozen "reasons" that have been given and are still given out by teacher unions and others for the continued poor performance, if not outright failure, of much of the U.S. public school system. Among them: lack of money, crowded classrooms, low teacher salaries.

Dr. Paige proceeded to knock each one down. Average spending per pupil is way up in the last 20 years. Students-to-teacher ratios are down. Teacher salaries are up and continuing to move up; teacher benefits even more so. And yet students are not able to read in grade school. They are behind the international curve in high school math and science. Achievement levels are, as this straight talker put it, "flat as a pancake."

What is missing, he said, is accountability for this failure. He quoted a teachers' union member as saying the tough mandatory student testing that is part of the No Child Left Behind Act is setting up black kids in particular "for failure." On the contrary, Paige said, the testing was merely showing the failure already there.

And that testing is not nearly as costly as opponents claim, Paige said. He also reminded the audience of a recent New Hampshire study that showed the Granite State stands to receive more than adequate funding for the new act's requirements.

A lot of money and even more excuses have been thrown at the continuing shortcomings of public education. The answers lie elsewhere. New Hampshire parents and taxpayers, who have understood this for years, should be encouraged that President Bush's point man on education understands it as well.


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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: 08/23/2003