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NCLB Outrages

Bush: No Child Left Behind Closing Achievement Gap

And all the Democrats do is whine that NCLB is underfunded.

By Theola Labbé

President Bush said today that the No Child Left Behind education requirements he signed into law four years ago have helped to close the achievement gap and he proposed several changes to the law aimed at assisting teachers and giving parents more school choice.

Speaking at Friendship-Woodridge Elementary and Middle School in Northeast Washington, Bush said that the federal law has been successful because the annual testing in reading and math hold schools accountable for how they teach and what students learn. The law, which is scheduled to be reauthorized next year, requires all students, including special education and learning disabled populations, to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

Bush chose Friendship-Woodridge, a charter school that opened in 1998, because the school has met academic benchmarks for the last three years. On the latest test, the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment, the school was among the four schools out of 37 charter schools to make the grade.

"How do you solve the problem until you measure the problem," Bush said, touting the merits of annual testing. "The No Child Left Behind Act demands results for every child."

Bush proposed several changes to the law and called on Congress to fund them. Teachers who raise their student scores or decide to teach in a hard-to-serve urban or rural school districts would get a bonus. Math and science professionals would work in more classrooms under a federally-funded adjunct program. Parents, who often receive information about school options after the schoolyear has started, would have to receive earlier notice.

Bush said that a District voucher program, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship, that allows 1,800 District public school children to attend private schools should be expanded to 28,000 children across the country. Finally, he said that America's high schools are not graduating one-fourth of their students, and he called for more standardized testing beyond the 10th grade, and a new Advanced Placement teacher training program for 70,00 teachers.

"If you want America to compete, you must have high standards," he said, addressing teachers and students in the school's gymnasium.

In a statement, the Democratic National Committee called the education law a failure because it said it has been underfunded and has forced states to sue the federal government to pay for programs. States Sue Bush For Unfunded Mandate of No Child Left Behind. Several states and the District, and other groups filed separate amicus briefs last month supporting a lawsuit brought by the National Education Association that the law was unfunded. According to the Mental Health Law Report, 80 percent of school districts report they have No Child Left Behind costs not covered by federal funding.

"The broken promises of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act are disgraceful," said DNC spokeswoman Stacie Paxton.

But the mood on the Friendship campus was upbeat as children and visitors basked in the excitement of a presidential visit.

"What this about today is education and what works," said Franklin Malone, a registered Democrat who enrolled his twins in fifth grade this year. "This is a proud day for us," he said.

— Theola Labbé
Washington Post


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