NASET News Alert

Education Reform

May 26, 2006

Spellings Says Americans Serious About Education Reform Points to "Quiet Revolution" Sparked by No Child Left Behind Act

May 2005--ST. PETERSBURG—U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings called the movement toward high standards and accountability in our nation's schools a "quiet revolution" made possible by the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act.

In a speech to the Education Writers Association in St. Petersburg, Fla., Secretary Spellings cited the underlying aim of the law, asking, "Are we really serious about educating every child in America?" The vast majority of states, Spellings maintained, have answered in the affirmative.

"They are hard at work, helping students achieve. It's a 'quiet revolution'-an underreported revolution, I would add," Spellings said. "We have shed old attitudes and behaviors, confronted the truth, rolled up our sleeves and gotten down to work.

"And the work is paying off: in states such as North Carolina, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois and New Mexico, to name just a few, students are achieving and the achievement gap is closing."

The decision by some to challenge the law and put classroom funds at risk, Spellings said, must be viewed in that light.

"The contrary actions of a couple of states and one union do not constitute a 'grassroots rebellion,'" Spellings said. "All 50 states-including, I would add, those now challenging the law-have accountability plans in place that have laid the foundation for continuous school improvement and real student achievement.

"The bottom line is that most respected, national education organizations are working with us to continue the unprecedented national progress that No Child Left Behind has begun. So are most states, 15,000 school districts and 96,000 schools across the nation."

Noting the historic nature of the law, which was passed over three years ago, Spellings said, "Never before in the 229-year history of our nation has the United States made a promise to provide all children with a high quality education."

She also reminded the writers of the declining student achievement levels and growing achievement gaps that have plagued many schools. "You've covered the studies," she said. "For too many students, a high school diploma has become little more than a 'certificate of attendance.' Millions of children have been given a seat in the classroom but not a meaningful and useful education.

"We must give them all a chance. It is the moral imperative of the 21st century."

Spellings argued that the achievement gap hurts all Americans, not just a few, by undercutting our leadership in the world.

"Students in this country lose interest in science and math as they advance through the educational system," Spellings said, while economic competitors such as China and India increasingly fill the gap.

"We must turn this around. I am optimistic after se

eing the nation's governors and respected business leaders such as Bill Gates come together and call for reform of our nation's high schools," Spellings said. "It's urgently needed, and it's something in which the president and I strongly believe."

The complete text of the Secretary's prepared remarks can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2005/05/05062005.html

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