Federal File

Press Secretary

Spellings Offers Her Thoughts on News Coverage of Education

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints

People in the news media are missing the real story in education these days, according to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

As she put it recently, broadcast and print news organizations should be focusing on how many states and schools are using the federal No Child Left Behind Act to improve student achievement and hold public schools more accountable.

Instead, many news outlets are focusing on what they view as a crisis in education, and the ways a few states and organizations have begun a backlash against the federal law.

Ms. Spellings, speaking May 6 at the annual convention of the Education Writers Association, held in St. Petersburg, Fla., singled out coverage of states that are being particularly rebellious toward the law. The EWA is a Washington-based professional organization for reporters and editors interested in education.

Utah, which may risk the loss of its federal education aid with a new law asserting the primacy of the state’s accountability system over NCLB requirements, “has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation,” she said, noting disparities in Utah between white and Hispanic students. “They must explain their actions to the state’s Hispanic parents.”

In Connecticut, which is threatening to sue the Department of Education over the costs of the No Child Left Behind law, black 4th graders trail their white peers by dozens of points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, she said.


But while some states take issue with the law, “there are dozens of others that are quietly going about their business” and implementing it, she said. “I really wouldn’t call that a rebellion.”

She lauded Wyoming for high test-score targets under the law, and she cited the narrowing of gaps in test scores in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois, and New Mexico.

Ms. Spellings, who noted that she had taken several journalism classes in college, also pointed out that nowhere in the No Child Left Behind Act is the term “failing school” used.

“Yet this anxiety-provoking term is commonly used in headlines and in the bodies of your stories,” she said. She noted that the statute refers to schools “in need of improvement.”

At one point, the secretary even joked about the flap over the Education Department’s public relations contract involving the commentator Armstrong Williams, which was signed during the tenure of her predecessor, Rod Paige.

“You don’t have to be paid off like pundit Armstrong Williams to like No Child Left Behind,” she said.

Vol. 24, Issue 37, Page 22

Published in Print: May 18, 2005, as Press Secretary

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

Sponsor Insights

Vocabulary Development for Striving Readers

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >