President Bush on No Child Left Behind

By January 7, 2008Education and Training

From the President’s remarks at Horace Greeley Elementary School this morning in Chicago. He refers to Margaret Spellings, secretary of Education.

And so now is the time for Congress to reauthorize it. I’m sure a lot of people look around the country and say it’s impossible for Congress and the President to work together. I strongly disagree. We worked together to get the bill written in the first place, and I believe we can work together to get it reauthorized. If it’s not reauthorized, then I’ve instructed our Secretary to move forward on some reforms or to analyze reforms that she can do through the administrative process. If Congress passes a bill that weakens the accountability system in the No Child Left Behind Act, I will strongly oppose it and veto it, because the act will continue on — in other words, this act isn’t expiring, it just needs to be reauthorized.

And what are some of the things we can do? Margaret has been listening to members of Congress, but equally importantly, she’s been listening to governors and local school boards. We need to increase the flexibility for our states and districts. We don’t want the No Child Left Behind Act to be viewed as something that hamstrings innovation. There ought to be flexibility in the system. We’re going to provide help for struggling schools — extra help. We want to make sure that a high school degree means something. We don’t want people getting out of high school and it’s not meaning something.

She’s been talking with members of Congress to give schools credit for growth and achievement that individual students make from year to year — in other words, flexibility in the accountability system without undermining the core principle of accountability. We’re going to implement a more accurate system for measuring high school drop-out rate, and make it easier for our students to enroll in the tutoring programs. There are things we can do, and must do, by working together.

Meanwhile, the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals has reversed a district court’s dismissal of a school district challenge to the NCLB legislation. The decision involves federalism issues raised by the “clear statement” rule, that is, the statutory specificity of conditions imposed on states that receive federal funding. More here.

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