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Margaret Spelling Interview

Excerpt from Interview. You can view the entire transcript at url below.

Tavis: Let me ask you how in that administration that is bogged down now with the Iraq Study Group and the crisis in Iraq, etcetera, etcetera, how, when you sit around the big table in the White House with the president does education even cross his mind? And how do you legitimately and realistically get any kind of respect when everybody in the country and the world knows his attention is on this other matter?

Spellings: Well, Americans know, and I think we all believe this in our heart, that education - this was certainly true for you, Tavis - that education is the game-changer in our country. Education is the way to opportunity for everybody. And that that can't be minimized. In fact, I would argue, and I certainly have done some international things that education is a universal shared value.

And that is fundamentally what's gonna change the way people think. Tolerance. All of the things that we do in schools. So, it's not to be minimized, and the president does pay a lot of attention to it. I'll tell you one thing that's been a huge asset for this issue is this is a bipartisan issue. I'm out here in Los Angeles today, Eli Broad, obviously a big Democrat, he's hugely supportive of No Child Left Behind.

I've met with Senator Kennedy and Congressman Miller, the two soon to be chairmen of the relevant committees. They are as committed to No Child Left Behind today as they were when they were the co-authors of it five years ago. And we know what is at state for our country. Sure, we're gonna argue about resources, we're gonna argue about tactics, and so forth. But there are some non-negotiable things in this law, and I'm glad to be working on this issue right now, 'cause it's so super-critical.

Tavis: Senator Kennedy, to your point, though, clearly has had some criticism since the law got passed, since the bill got passed into law. We won't debate those now. The point, though is, or the question, rather, is whether or not in this divided Congress now, it's one thing to pass No Child Left Behind, get it financed, get it funded, that is to say, when the Republicans controlled the House and the Senate. We, as you well know, have a divided government in Washington, which portends what for the passage of No Child Left Behind next year?

Spellings: Well, I think No Child Left Behind is here and here to stay, and will be strengthened. The Civil Rights community knows that there is a focus on our neediest students, which has always been the primary place for federal involvement. That this is working for African-American and Hispanic kids, for special education students. It's pulling our country forward, educationally.

And the proof is in the pudding. And I'm confident that we're gonna have bipartisan discussions, and my hope and prayer at the end of the day is that we'll get this all reauthorized and strengthened this year. Because we also need to go to the next level. We need to start talking about how we're gonna have more rigor in our high schools. No Child Left Behind is about the early grades, reading and math, three through eight. We've gotta start talking about high school and opportunity. Math and science, the competitiveness things that are gonna keep our country great.

— Tavis Smiley and Margaret Spellings
Tavis Smiley Show


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