Paige Takes a Look at Voyager
Ohanian Comment: Just a coincidence of course that Voyager, refried Distar, is a Texas company.
The achievement gap faced by poor and minority students across the country is "the civil rights issue of this generation," Education Secretary Rod Paige said during a visit to Las Vegas Wednesday.
"Just like the right to vote and the right to be treated equally, every child deserves a quality education," Paige said as he toured Edwards Elementary School near Lamb Boulevard and Bonanza Road. "We need to be worried as a nation. We need to be doing much better."
The federal No Child Left Behind Act has moved America's public schools in the right direction, Paige said. The act requires 100 percent of schoolchildren to be proficient in reading, writing and mathematics by the 2013-14 academic year. Schools must show "adequate yearly progress" toward that goal or face sanctions, including loss of federal funds.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has challenged Bush's education reform as relying too heavily on standardized tests to measure achievement. Kerry's proposed education plan would give schools more leeway in demonstrating student achievement.
Testing is the only way of determining whether educational standards are being met, Paige said.
"People who say that this is a system just about testing miss the point," Paige said. "The best statement about that was made by a teacher in Memphis, who said to me, 'I have to test my students to find out what they don't know so I can know what to teach them.' "
Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., who joined Paige on his tour of the school, said there have been some important revisions to the No Child Left Behind Act, including allowing schools more leeway in testing students who are not fluent in English and students with severe disabilities.
Paige visited Edwards because of the school's success with the Voyager reading program, system that targets remedial students and students for whom English is a second language.
He praised students and teachers at Edwards for showing the kind of dedication and improvement the federal education reform is intended to stimulate.
Denise Brodsky, a member of the Clark County School Board, who spoke with Paige at a private event at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas earlier Wednesday, said she told Paige local districts should have more autonomy in how they spend federal dollars.
"There may be more funding, but we're facing a higher-need community," Brodsky said. "What I don't see is a lot of local control, and that's what concerns me."
Paige calls education gap a new civil rights issue
Las Vegas Sun
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