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Spellings Quiz: Teachers test official

Below find a news story summarizing an interview with U. S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Below that, find the transcript of the interview. Notice how Klein keeps saying "Good."

by Gil Klein

WASHINGTON - Lisa Hogsett, who teaches emotionally disabled students at Bailey Bridge Middle School in Chesterfield County, is struggling with the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Her students, some of whom read on third-and fourth-grade levels, are expected to pass the same achievement tests required of regular students, she said. If she could, Hogsett would say this to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings:

"No matter how many accommodations [my students] get, they simply can't pass the criteria established through No Child Left Behind to ensure my school makes [adequate] yearly progress."

Hogsett would ask if there will be any changes to No Child testing that allows children to be tested according to their current reading level.

Normally, Hogsett would have no way to ask her question. But Media General News Service this month sat down with Spellings and asked Hogsett's question and 21 others submitted by teachers who read Media General newspapers in the Southeast.

As Hogsett's comments suggest, many teachers feel affected by No Child Left Behind. Under the law, each school must make "adequate yearly progress" toward getting all students proficient in reading and math by 2014. Schools that miss that goal suffer the stigma of being singled out as needing improvement. Some schools even have to give their students the option of transferring to a better school.

As President Bush's chief education adviser in his first term, Spellings was instrumental in creating the law. Now as education secretary in Bush's second term, she is in charge of implementing it.

Asked Hogsett's question, Spellings said, "Well, Lisa, that's a complicated question with a little bit of a complicated answer."

In the 3½ years since the law was implemented, "we now have a better understanding about who special-ed kids are and the range of abilities from the most severely and profoundly handicapped to those that will get to the goal line of proficiency."

Spellings added that just putting this requirement in the law has changed the nature of the discussion about special-education students.

"What gets measured gets done," she said. This "really has caused us to focus on every single child and to have a better, richer understanding of their needs and of the kind of instruction that it's going to take to get them there."

Jennifer Andrews, a special-education teacher at Godwin High School in Henrico County, worries about the law's requirement that middle and high school teachers be certified in the subjects they teach. She is certified in special education but teaches science to special-ed students.

"Under No Child Left Behind, I'm required to be certified in both special education and science," she said. Yet finding a teacher certified in both subjects is nearly impossible. "How will NCLB address that problem?"

Spellings offered no hope for a change in that requirement. Instead, she said, the Education Department is creating regional "Teacher Institutes" to help train experienced teachers.

The law, she said, "is building an appetite in school management -- with Jennifer's boss, if you will -- to pay more attention to Jennifer's ability, her skills and her professional-development opportunity. The bottom line will be improved performance for the kids."

Andrews also asked what would happen in cities such as Portsmouth, Va., where so many schools have failed to meet adequate yearly progress that parents in those schools must participate in a lottery to get their children into the few schools that are performing well.

"School choice is just one of the options for students under No Child Left Behind when their school does not make adequate yearly progress," Spellings said. "The Portsmouth school district could create a school within a school that could offer a different curriculum for students seeking an alternative. The district also has the option to provide early supplemental education services like tutoring and after-school help to their students."

Maria Luzzi, a special-education teacher at Henrico's Tuckahoe Middle School, asked: "How can we expect the schools to show yearly progress when we're constantly getting a new set of immigrants who have to start from the beginning to overcome language barriers, culture shock and economic hardships?"

Spellings, who was Bush's education adviser when he was governor of Texas, said she has been working on the immigrant-education problem a long time and still doesn't have the answer.

"I've convened a group of experts and practitioners, educators, to see what we know about how best to serve those kids, and I'm looking for their guidance," she said. "I want to do a lot of listening to the people who are out in the field and am hopeful that by the early part of the school year we'll have some additional clarification around our ability to better serve limited-English kids."

Jennifer Karluk, who lives in Richmond and teaches at Ecoff Elementary School in Chesterfield, said the No Child law seems to be in violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which governs how schools treat disabled children.

No Child requires that children be tested at their present grade level, she said, even if the disabled student cannot perform at that level. IDEA requires that disabled children be tested at their current performance level.

Spellings said a recent legal ruling determined that No Child is not in conflict with IDEA.

"Congress reauthorized IDEA at the end of last year to make absolutely sure that these two pieces of legislation . . . were in harmony," she said. By the end of this year, she said, the Education Department will complete a review of its rules to clear up any "misunderstandings or misperceptions."

Nancy Welch, the instructional technology resource teacher at Mathews County High School, wanted to know if, when No Child is up for renewal in 2007, Spellings will be recommending any changes.

Spellings said there may well be changes in provisions for special-education children, for children with limited English and to give schools credit for making progress over time.

"I'm anxious to visit with educators about what they think the issues are," she said, "and I'll be working with Congress as we head into reauthorization."

Transcript of Interview with Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education

by Gil Klein
MEDIA GENERAL NEWS SERVICE

Aug 11, 2005 (interviewed 8/4/05)



GIL KLEIN: Okay. Secretary Spellings, I want to thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I have invited teachers who read our newspapers to send me questions to ask you. About 40 questions arrived in my email. I know I don't have time to ask them all, but I hope we can get through as many as possible. So with your permission, I would like to get right down to it. All right?

Lisa Hogsett, who teaches emotionally disabled students at Bailey Bridge Middle School in Chesterfield County , Virginia , in Chesterfield County , Virginia asked: “Many of my students read well below grade level, such as 3 rd or 4 th grade, and most of them have learning disabilities. No matter how many accommodations they get, they simply can't pass the criteria established through No Child Left Behind to ensure my school makes annual yearly progress. Will there be any changes to NCLB testing that allows children to be tested according to their current reading level?

MARGARET SPELLINGS: Well, Lisa, that's a complicated question with a little bit of a complicated answer. And the first thing that I said when I was confirmed was that we ought to implement No Child Left Behind in a sensible way that is based on our best research and our most informed practices. And in the three and a half years or so that we've been implementing this law, we now have a better understanding about who special ed kids are and the range of abilities from the most severely and profoundly handicapped to those that really can and will get to the goal line of proficiency. And so after I was – became secretary, I put together a working group of some of our best researchers from the National Institutes of Child Health and Development and the like, and discovered that really there were about a 2 percent – an additional 2 percent of students who are going to need additional time, more intensive instruction beyond the 1 percent that the department had already said we understand that they are unlikely to get there. So now we think there's about 3 percent of those students that need a little different treatment than just the regular ed kid, if you will, and so that's part of the answer.

The second thing is I really want to emphasize that without this sort of discussion around special ed kids and without these requirements of No Child Left Behind, I really wonder if we would be having these discussions about how to serve all children and do it well. And so I think No Child Left Behind – as I often say, what gets measured, gets done. Really has caused us to focus on every single child and to have a better, richer understanding of their needs and of the kind of instruction that it's going to take to get them there.

MR. KLEIN: Good. Jennifer Andrews, a special education teacher at Godwin High School in Virginia 's Henrico County asked: “I'm a special education teacher teaching earth science and biology. In some classes I am teaching with a fully qualified science teacher and in others I'm teaching alone, yet I'm not certified in science. Under No Child Left Behind, I'm required to be certified in both special education and science, yet finding certified special ed teachers and science teachers is difficult, much less teachers certified in both. So how will NCLB address that problem?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, in a variety of ways. I mean, the Congress was very committed, as is the president, that we understand that a great teacher, a good teacher, a well qualified teacher is, you know, the silver bullet of educational excellence – no doubt about it – and that you can't teach what you don't know yourself clearly. And so part of the things we've been working on here at the department is through a series of Teacher Training Institutes – we call it the Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative where teachers who've gotten good results – we've had thousands of applications from around the country; had several hundred teachers who served as presenters. It's essentially a trainer – a trainer's model where teachers are actually sharing techniques and strategies with their peers.

The law does require that teachers be qualified and certified and have subject area expertise in that which they are teaching, and I think that's building an appetite in school management – with Jennifer's boss, if you will – to pay more attention to Jennifer's ability, her skills, and her professional development opportunity that she's offered for the district. And I think the bottom line will be improved performance for kids.

MR. KLEIN: She also asked that under NCLB, what should happen in a city like Portsmouth where many schools fail to meet adequately yearly progress and parents must participate in a lottery in order for the children to be selected for one of the limited seats in a better performing school?

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, again like I said what gets measured, gets done, Jennifer. And when we – No Child Left Behind has allowed us to focus on what the proficiencies and what the deficiencies are in schools so that we know very precisely is it, you know, African-American achievement in math at 3 rd grade that we need to work on, or is it, you know, 8 th grade reading with Hispanic students? So it allows us to develop strategies that are appropriate to the needs of the school and that's what this has done. It tells us where we need to go to work. And what I'm seeing all around the country, both from teachers and school administrators, and clearly this was borne out in the national assessment data that we got a couple of weeks ago – is that we are on the right track. That something is going right out there. The achievement gap is closing: big, big gains for Hispanic and African-American kids in reading, particularly at our lower grade levels.

(The Education Department later said that Secretary Spellings did not understand the question, and said this is her answer:

MS. SPELLINGS: School Choice is just one of the options for students under No Child Left Behind when their school does not make adequate yearly progress. Like some schools in D.C., the Portsmouth school district could create a school within a school that could offer a different curriculum for students seeking an alternative. The district also has the option to provide early supplemental educational services like tutoring and after-school help to their students.”)

MR. KLEIN: Maria Luzzi who teaches special education in Tuckahoe Middle School in Henrico County asked, “How can we expect the schools to show yearly progress when we're constantly getting a new set of immigrants who have to start from the beginning to overcome language barriers, cultural shock, and economic hardships?”

MS. SPELLINGS: That's a great question, Maria, and I come from the state of Texas where that is certainly some thing that we confronted very regularly and is not unique to Texas obviously, but something that is going to be more and more of the case in our country as we become more diverse. As I said when I was confirmed, there were three issues that I've heard a lot about. One was special education, which was asked earlier. One was the ability for No Child Left Behind to give credit for progress, growth as opposed to just keeping the eye on the absolute standard. And then thirdly issues related to limited English proficient kids and I've convened a group of experts and practitioners, educators to see what we know about how best to serve those kids and I'm looking for their guidance.

I want to do a lot of listening to the people who are out on the field and am hopeful that by the early part of the school year we'll have some additional clarification around our ability to better serve limited English kids.

MR. KLEIN: Good. Jenny Karluk who teaches at Ecoff Elementary School in Richmond asked, “Isn't there a disparity between the No Child law and the laws governing students with disabilities? No Child requires the student should be tested at their present grade level even if that student has disabilities and is not performing close to grade level, but under IDEA students are tested at their current performance level. Doesn't the No Child law violate the guarantees under the Americans with Disabilities Act and IDEA?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, we have just had actually a legal ruling that says that No Child Left Behind is not in conflict with IDEA – with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. That's the first thing. The second thing I would say is that the Congress reauthorized IDEA at the end of last year to make absolutely sure that these laws, that these two pieces of legislation, very significant legislation were in harmony. And we at the department are engaged in the rule-making process right now. I have committed to the Congress that we would complete that rule-making process by the end of this calendar year and that to the extent that there is any misunderstanding or misperception of the inconsistencies that we address those.

MR. KLEIN: Okay. Now we move from Richmond to Tampa . Anita Altman, a teacher at Quail Hollow Elementary in Pasco County , Florida , asks, “No Child Left Behind insists that children improve their skills each year from the previous year, yet at some schools children are already reading as well as they should be. Aren't you penalizing schools for doing a good job?”

MS. SPELLINGS: No. Absolutely not. But I would say there our federal responsibility and role has always been for our nation's neediest kids whether they are Title I kids, largely minority and poor kids, or whether they're special education kids. And we know that with only about a third of the kids who get out of high school today and many of those kids unprepared for college and the work force that we really have work to do and that is what No Child Left Behind is about. You know, we have staggering numbers of kids, particularly in inner city America, who are not reading at grade level and so job one, if you will, of No Child Left Behind was to make sure that we get all of those kids to be proficient readers.

What I'm seeing around the country and certainly this was the case in my own state is that as this law matures and as these policies mature we're seeing a richening and a broadening and a strengthening of accountability systems so that they become more sophisticated over time, so that we measure not just basic proficiency but also excellence and those are the sorts of things that I see states around the country working on so that we can accommodate accountability systems that measure the best and the brightest and those kids who may be below grade level.

MR. KLEIN: Okay. Connie Gillespie, 8 th grade guidance counselor at Tomlin Middle School in Hillsborough County, Florida, asked, “Your Assistant Secretary, Dr. Sclafani recently stated that, quote, ‘School counselors must help schools recognize that assessments mandated by NCLB are just one measure of what schools – of what students know. They are not all that should be accomplished by our schools,' but in my state the money and therefore the focus is geared toward one measure: the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. How can No Child Left Behind be restated to encourage states like Florida to be more balanced?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, No Child Left Behind actually calls for not only standardized assessment as a key part of the accountability but also things like attendance rates. There are many states – Colorado – they describe or report teacher salaries and class size and various other indicators that are important to parents and policymakers.

But I will say that, you know, the assessment data is really one of the most important indicators that we have because it's objective. It's not something that can be, you know, easily manipulated. And it is an important way for us to understand really how well our schools are doing and so, you know, assessment is a very, very important part. There are other indicators, no doubt about it, but as I said what gets measured, gets done.

MR. KLEIN: Deborah Hicks, who teaches in Hillsborough County , Florida , asked, “I teach in a school that was entitled to Title I federal money. We lost that money due to new, more stringent criteria. Now we are told that the federal government can confiscate all the equipment and materials we purchased with the money. We lost employees hired to tutor and mentor lower performing students. How can this possibly help the NCLB goals?”

MS. SPELLINGS: No Child Left Behind and the formula funding that attaches to it through Title I and these other programs is developed around the propensity of kids that are designated as Title I. And so as we've seen shifts around the country, typically fewer Title I kids in northeastern states to the – as we have growing populations in the south and southwest, you see some fluctuations and distributions on Title I. I'm not aware of this confiscation feature, but I will certainly look into that.

MR. KLEIN: Okay. Jim Mullin, a math teacher at Jennings Middle School in Sefner , Florida , asks, “I'm just learning the value of incorporating a PowerPoint presentation in my lesson plan, but it looks like I'm going to have to write it all my own presentations which is very time-consuming. Is there some help teachers can get to provide professionally produced math presentations?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, Jim. Yes, there is. Get on the Department of Education website on our Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative and, as I've said, teachers are sharing strategies – have all summer – with each other about various techniques. But I would say even in doing that that curriculum standards are developed and proffered by states, so it's more of a state and local issue. The Department of Education is not the single, one-size-fits-all curriculum dictator around our country and so Jim's going to want to make sure that the PowerPoint presentation or materials that he uses correlate to the expectations of Florida and that's why through this Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative we've been able to provide models. There are website links and I would commend those materials to him.

MR. KLEIN: Carol Schiavone, who teaches at Lee Elementary School of Technology in Tampa , Florida , asks, “What are the rewards for Title I schools that consistently meet the No Child Left Behind Act?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, the reward is understanding that you've served kids well and that's why people get into the teaching profession. That's certainly why I got into education and that is that, you know, the joy and understanding that you've given the gift of literacy and learning to kids is – you know, it's certainly its own reward and most the teachers that I'm around really feel that calling.

So the other thing is we have a Blue Ribbon School program here where we honor exemplary schools. I know many states have their own systems and I think, you know, parents – we've empowered parents with more information about how well their schools are working, and I know I feel this as a parent of school-age children myself: when they're working and working well we all owe educators a great debt of gratitude and a big fat thank you.

MR. KLEIN: And we move to Winston-Salem , North Carolina . And Angelia Visco, a third grade teacher at Friendship Elementary School in Davidson County , North Carolina , asks, “Can you explain annual yearly growth? The formula doesn't make sense to me yet my career depends upon it.”

MS. SPELLINGS: Adequate yearly progress is a notion that says that we are going to get all kids – with a few exceptions, as I've described some of the special ed provisions – to proficiency by 2013, '14, and then we are going to work our way toward doing that. And it's a place where No Child Left Behind requires that every single subgroup of kids, whether they are African-American, Hispanic, Anglo, and so forth and also by subject area – math and reading are the two areas of proficiency that are measured – are on track to meet those targets. And so it's a sophisticated calculation that looks at every grade level, various demographic groups, and multiple subject areas to figure out whether a school is on track or not.

It also, as I said a minute ago, allows us to say, where do we at the school have to work? Are we doing well in math but lacking in reading? Are we doing well at third and fourth grade but lacking at seventh or eighth? I mean, those are the sorts of things that are ferreted out through this richer data that we can present to educators and parents.

MR. KLEIN: She also asked, “Why is it that schools that show little growth don't receive as much money as schools that show a lot of growth? It seems like the schools that show the most growth are in the wealthy suburbs. Why not give the most money to schools showing little growth in the poorer neighborhoods?”

MS. SPELLINGS: The Title I funds, which are primarily what's at issue here, are allocated around the neediest kids and it's a standard of who qualifies for free and reduced lunch typically, and we do see concentration of those kids largely in inner-city and those are where federal funds are invested. The federal government is about an 8 or a 9 percent investor in public education. Most of the funds for education come from state and local districts, and I would urge a teacher like that or an educator to look at the allocation of state and local dollars that are flowing into those campuses as well.

MR. KLEIN: Marshall Marvelli, a teacher at the Paisley Magnet School in Winston-Salem , North Carolina , asks, “With 17 to 20 pupils in the classroom, I can be a very effective teacher. With 27 to 30-plus students, management becomes a major issue and education comes in second. How can I achieve the goals that the federal government has set with such a large class?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, Marshall , the issues of class size are typically left to the state governments. We certainly – in my state of Texas , we had a K-12 maximum ratio in grades K-4 but that's not necessarily the case around the country. What No Child Left Behind has done, really, is say these are the outcomes we expect, these are the results, and we're going to leave process issues like class size ratios and curriculum decisions to state and local officials. And I think what the power of this data is – it suggests that – and maybe Marshall can prove up his point that smaller class size gets results in North Carolina , and maybe it doesn't. But those are the sorts of things that state policymakers can look at.

MR. KLEIN: Move to Lynchburg , Virginia . Tom Yarber, who teaches at Rustburg High School in Campbell County , Virginia , asks, “Under NCLB, I see that Virginia gets $53 million to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, yet as the school year begins I see many teaching vacancies in the state. What does the federal government think it is getting for this money?”

MS. SPELLINGS: The teacher funds that flow through No Child Left Behind really go to states who use them in various ways. Most states have focused on enhancing subject area expertise and credentialing systems for their teachers. They also have used these resources to allocate funds for professional development around their own curricula, around measurement standards, and around the needs of districts and states.

As I've said, No Child Left Behind and this data allows us to be precise about do we have problems in math or is it reading? Is it elementary school? Is it middle school? And so there's really not a one-size-fits-all prescription from the federal government. States allocate resources around their priorities

MR. KLEIN: So is there a specific program for retaining and attracting highly qualified teachers or is this something that the states decide on their own?

MS. SPELLINGS: They – it's certainly a priority Title II, the teacher pot of money that flows to No Child Left Behind, but it states that allocate and establish within their own teacher corps what the proper allocation and priorities are.

MR. KLEIN: We go now to Manassas and Woodbridge . Margaret Griffin, a teacher at Ashland Elementary School in Manassas , Virginia , has two questions. “In low income schools there are many students whose IQs are below average, but above the cutoff for special services. What is the federal government doing to help teachers make sure these students pass testing requirements without holding brighter students back?”

MS. SPELLINGS: That's a great question and, as I've said, one of the first things when I got to work at when I was named secretary. We at the department have provided about $14 million in technical assistance and we intend to release later this fall or in the early part of the school year a tool kit, if you will, so that we can better serve these kids. I'm not sure that this teacher is aware of the additional 2 percent flexibility so that we know there are kids who are going to take longer and are going to need additional strategies, and we at the department have committed in gathering up resources around this organization that we can figure out and help them figure out what those appropriate strategies are so that we can get these kids to the proficiency targets by 2013, ‘14.

MR. KLEIN: She also asked, “I've worked at newly constructed schools and in crumbling schools and I know what a difference it makes in the ability to learn. Does the federal government plan to provide any incentives or aids so that schools – states and school systems can bring parity in school construction quality?”

MS. SPELLINGS: As I've said, No Child Left Behind is about results in reading and math in grades three through eight largely. That's the focus. Issues like class size, school facilities, construction issues, teacher pay those are all left to state and local government. And as I've said further, the federal government really is an 8 to 9 percent investor in public education, and so those decisions are going to follow state and local policymakers.

MR. KLEIN: Ann Miller, a special education teacher at Forest Park Senior High School in Woodbridge , Virginia , asks, “Under the No Child Act, special education students who are reading three and four levels below their classmates are now challenged to keep up their peers to accomplish the same outcome on tests. And now special education teachers are required not only to be competent in special education skills, but also in a core academic subject. Given all the paperwork required for special education teachers, isn't the No Child law making unrealistic demands?

MS. SPELLINGS: No, I don't think so. And what we know from our best researchers who tell us about the propensity of disability in a population, about who needs what kind of strategy, we can do a much better job of serving these kids – no doubt about it. In the absence of No Child Left Behind, I'm not sure we would be having these discussions. For far too long many of these kids were simply off the books and unattended to and this is requiring us to be much more sophisticated towards approaching these children and getting these kids to the goal line because they can get there. It'll take different techniques. It's going to take longer, but they can get there.

MR. KLEIN: Now we move to Concord , North Carolina . Libby Morrison, an exceptional child teacher at Lake Norman High School in Mooresville , North Carolina , asks, “I teach in an occupational course of study for high school mentally-challenged students. Under the No Child law, I'm now required to be certified in education for mentally-disabled students plus in math, science, social studies, English, and occupational training. The only solution is in earning the National Board Certification which is so time-consuming and difficult that few teachers can attain it. Has No Child made such programs for the mentally-challenged impossible to staff?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, this was the key feature of the Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative this year, and the Congress believes that teachers without competency and proficiency in their subject areas do a less effective job with kids; that if you don't know math, it's hard to teach math. And so while it is – it certainly has presented some challenges not only to the teachers but to school administrators and managers, it also has built an appetite, if you will, for opportunities to enhance professional skills to come from the states. The federal government has given large amounts of resources through Title II, the funding that goes for teacher development, and this data – this No Child Left Behind – has provided them a picture – a true picture of where they need to go to work. And certainly our special education achievement standards and results have shown us that opportunities for special ed teachers certainly must be a priority.

MR. KLEIN: James Davis, a principal intern at Bethel Elementary School in Midland , North Carolina , asks, “How is it possible to keep the magic in teaching if all we're doing is teaching to a test?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, James, I have two school children myself and I meet with their school teachers regularly. I see the magic of teaching and teachers with not only my own children but as I travel around the country and meet teachers, and it's very heartening to me. I do think that these are not mutually exclusive goals – that the magic pf teaching and the love of learning and all those things can be instilled and provided while we're focusing on how well these kids are doing. Magic without results is maybe not so magical and I think these are not things are mutually exclusive by any means.

MR. KLEIN: Now we move to Bristol on the Virginia-Tennessee border. Rebecca Kaufmann, who teaches at Virginia Middle School in Bristol , Tennessee , asks, “Alan Greenspan said the problem with American education is that students move rapidly from grades four through 12 without learning basic skills. State education departments have interpreted NCLB as a one-size-fits-all education system. Can No Child move from this thinking to one customized to a child's talents and interests? Can it provide technical training for – before non-academic students tune out and turn off?”

MS. SPELLINGS: I think absolutely it can and, again, No Child Left Behind gives us a picture of how well we're doing and where we need to continue to work. The National Assessment data that we just got showed great gains for nine-year-olds; less good, but still encouraging at age 13; and flat for age 17. It shows us where we need to go to work. We know with the ever flattening of the world that math and science must be priorities and so it allows us to develop strategies around the needs of our nation and clearly those are things that state policymakers, local school boards, you know, pay attention to.

MR. KLEIN: Linda Weber, the present superintendent of Roanoke County Schools, asks, “When No Child Left Behind was originally passed, there were promises about the cost of the program being borne by the feds. While there may be some debate as to how much is needed, most agree that what we have is not enough to do all that needs doing. The amount the Bush administration proposed for education this year dropped for the first time. Do you plan to lobby for more money?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, of course I am a strong advocate for increased funding and that's why funds for education are up very significantly in the Bush administration – no doubt that. As I've said, obviously the federal government is always – has always been a minority investor in public education, but what this discussion – what No Child Left Behind has done has taken us from asking how much do we spend to what do the kids know? How are we doing on getting every child to proficiency in reading and math – grade level proficiency? And the president thinks that's not too much to ask of our schools.

MR. KLEIN: Deanna Gordon, the former superintendent for Roanoke County Schools , Virginia , asks, “Republicans traditionally stand for limited intrusion into state and local governments. How does your administration justify regulations included in the NCLB Act? Where's the authority for federal control of curriculum and testing and other classroom specific matters? It's not in the Constitution.”

MS. SPELLINGS: No Child Left Behind is a compact between states and the federal government. It says that if you're going to take federal tax dollars that we ought to expect some results in return. States sets standards. They develop their own curricula. They develop their own assessment systems, but it says simply if – we must have results for the investment of federal tax dollars. And that's what No Child Left Behind has brought to our schools.

MR. KLEIN: And one final question that kind of sums up everything. Nancy Welch, who works for Virginia 's Matthews County Public Schools, asks, “What changes will you recommend for No Child legislation when it is renewed in 2007?”

MS. SPELLINGS: Well, Nancy , I'm visiting the folks all around the country to find out what the real issues are in schools. As I've said, special education, LEP, and the ability to get credit for your progress over time are three that come up, and the law is eligible for reauthorization in 2007. And I'm anxious to visit with educators about what they think the issues are and I'll be working with Congress as we head into reauthorization.

MR. KLEIN: Great. Thank you very much for your time. You did a great job.









Gil Klein writes for the Washington bureau of Media General News Service. E-mail gklein@mediageneral.com

— Gil Klein
Richmond Times-Dispatch
2005-08-14
http://tinyurl.com/92r2a


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