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NCLB Outrages

Chairman Miller Statement on Education Funding and Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind

As we all know, Bush has plenty of flaws, but that shouldn't let George Miller off the hook. Miller fails to mention the ire--and pressure--of the California Teachers Association, not to mention plenty of other Democrats across the country. If Bush were truly the only stumbling block to reauthorization, then Miller should have brought forward a bill and let Bush's veto expose further bankruptcy in his administration. As Nora Ephron wrote recently on Huffington Post, the Democrats should force Bush to veto legislation every day. Let the country see it. Instead, the Democrats walk away from the fray and sulk, revealing total impotence.

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, issued the following statement today about the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law and the President's threat to veto the 2008 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

***

When it comes to No Child Left Behind, President Bush has just one message, and it boils down to this: Stay the course.

All across the country, teachers, school administrators, school board members, and parents are voicing their concerns with the law. They don't think it makes sense to stay the course. They don't think it makes sense to preserve the status quo.

They think the law needs significant improvements, and they are right. Unfortunately, the President couldn't see it more differently. He thinks the law is nearly perfect.

Not only does he think the law itself is nearly perfect, but he thinks funding for it is sufficient. For years now, he has blindly and stubbornly undermined the law by refusing to adequately fund it.

After providing a substantial increase in education funding in year one, the President walked away from his funding commitment and never looked back. Schools and children bore the harsh brunt of that wrong-headed decision.

For example, the No Child Left Behind law requires that states and school districts take dramatic measures, such as replacing school leaders, to turn around schools that are repeatedly deemed in need of improvement. Yet not until Democrats took control of Congress was any money ever allotted to states to meet these demands of the law.

This week, by saying he will veto additional funding for America's schools, President Bush sharply reduced the prospects for good faith bipartisan negotiation over the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. Congress seeks a much-needed increase in education funding, and the President rejects it.

The President proved, yet again, that he is not serious about creating a world-class public education system. He thinks he can have his education legacy on the cheap. He is profoundly mistaken.

For the last several months, I have been engaged in an effort to improve the No Child Left Behind law. While retaining the core goals and standards of the law, including its strong focus on accountability, I have tried to respond to the serious and legitimate concerns with the law by making it more fair and flexible.

Congressman McKeon and his staff have also put a lot of time and effort into the reauthorization this year. I greatly appreciate Congressman McKeon's hard work.

It has become clear to me, however, that without real Presidential leadership, this reauthorization process is unlikely to succeed. And with this week's veto threat of the education appropriations bill, this President has demonstrated a complete failure of leadership.

President Bush's only real involvement this year in developing a new education bill has been to make an occasional speech urging Congress to stay the course. That has been counterproductive given how clearly unfair and inflexible the law is. Now the President is saying that he wants to stay the course on inadequate education funding as well.

It is difficult to see how we get a reauthorization bill done in this Congress as long as the President continues to oppose both common-sense improvements to the law and additional education funding.

— George Miller
Press Release
2007-11-07


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