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NCLB Outrages

Paige Says Schools on Track

How many times did you read the first sentence to make any sense out of it? Did you ever make any sense out of it (before imbibing alcohol)?

Quote of the decade:

"We test kids because we love them."
--Rod Paige

Is this a news article or a clip from a press release?

By Julia Crouse

LAKELAND -- Education is the only way tomorrow's leaders won't be speeding toward the future looking through their rearview mirrors, former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige told the Frederick Douglass Republican Club of Central Florida at its annual dinner Monday night.

The federal No Child Left Behind legislation coupled with Florida's strong interpretation of that law ensures that tomorrow's leaders can handle the rapid change engulfing the nation, Paige said.

Paige was the U.S. secretary of education from 2001-2005. He led the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation -- a centerpiece of President Bush's first term.

He was the seventh education secretary and first school superintendent to be appointed to the job. Paige served as the superintendent for Houston Independent School District in Texas.

Paige, one of the nation's leading black Republicans, was the keynote speaker at the annual dinner for the club, which is named in honor of Frederick Douglass, the black leader who was one of the nation's most prominent abolitionists in the years before the Civil War and fought for voting rights and other civil rights for blacks in the aftermath of the war.

Paige told the crowd of about 150 that Republicans are the heralds of the NCLB system. He urged them to explain the importance of education, NCLB and the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to critics.

The FCAT is the standardized test given to all Florida public school students in grades three through 10. Students must earn a passing score on the test for promotion to fourth grade and to graduate high school with a regular diploma.

"We test kids because we love them. We test kids because we want to find out what they've learned," Paige said. "We test kids because we don't want to teach them in darkness."

Florida's education system, under Gov. Jeb Bush, sets some of the toughest standards in the country, Paige said.

He said the state is well on its way to being a leader in school reform by identifying failing schools and working to improve them.

The world has never been changing as rapidly as it is now with the advent of computers, faster communication and the Internet, Paige said.

"Here's the question: Are we going to have the leadership to deal with the technological changes?" he said.

— Julia Crouse
The Ledger


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