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NCLB Outrages

Paige says education law's critics on 'wrong side of history'

Note: Paige identifies the critics of NCLB as: some unions, teachers, civil libertarians, liberal politicians and education advocates.

Bad thing to be: an education advocate and civil libertarian.

And why doesn't he identify who's in favor of NCLB? The Business Roundtable and other people out to privatize education; people with a religious agenda; definitely people who aren't education advocates.

WASHINGTON Education Secretary Rod Paige took a broad swipe Wednesday at critics of the administration's education overhaul, saying opponents of it will fall on the wrong side of history along with those who fought desegregation of schools 50 years ago.

Paige said The No Child Left Behind law is a logical extension of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark school desegregation court case of 1954. The 2002 law, which increased federal oversight of education, aims to raise academic standards for all students, particularly minorities who traditionally have an achievement gap when compared to whites.

"I find it staggering that the very critics the very critics and organizations that fought so hard for civil rights could leave minority children behind," said Paige, the first black education secretary, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

"Why?" said Paige, who grew up in segregated Mississippi. "Is it because their opposition is about power, about politics, about pride? It's clearly not in the best interest of the children."

Paige identified the critics as some "unions, teachers, civil libertarians, liberal politicians and education advocates."

The law requires a highly qualified teacher in all core classes, expanded standardized testing, more information for parents and public reporting of school scores for every demographic group of students. Schools that get federal poverty money but don't make adequate yearly progress face mounting sanctions and public pressures.

Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, a union of 2.7 million teachers and other education officials, called Paige's remarks a "sad commentary." Weaver said unions, members of Congress, state lawmakers, mayors and superintendents have raised legitimate criticisms about what they consider the law's lack of flexibility and money.

Under the law, funding for elementary and secondary education programs is expected to reach roughly $24.5 billion this year, a record amount. But critics say that's at least $7 billion short of what was authorized by Congress, affecting everything from teacher salaries to class sizes.

"The worst thing that can happen to young people and their communities is to be deceived by people who speak about closing the achievement gap, about having accountability and high standards, when in fact those same people do not match rhetoric with resources," Weaver said.

A handful of national education leaders, including those representing Hispanic administrators, black educators and urban schools, spoke in support of the law Wednesday. They said their concerns over funding and technical problems with the law are outweighed by the strong push to help minority students and hold schools accountable for progress.

President Bush plans to mark the two-year anniversary of the law Thursday by meeting with school children in Knoxville, Tenn.

— Ben Feller, Associated Press
Paige says education law's critics on 'wrong side of history'
San Diego Union


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