Federal Official’s Memory Is Selective on ‘Outrages’

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To the Editor:

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is quoted in your story "Spellings Addresses Testing, NCLB Issues" (May 3, 2006) as inquiring, in response to an Associated Press analysis of racial subgroups and adequate-yearly-progress calculations, “Where was the outrage five years ago, when 23 million students were uncounted?”

Let’s see, five years ago, 2001. Would that by chance have been when her predecessor, Rod Paige, was appointed to head the department? And was that the Mr. Paige whose professional reputation rested on his ostensible “accomplishments” as superintendent of the Houston public school system, at a time when principals there were systematically browbeaten to eliminate as many low-scoring children as possible from testing so the district would appear more effective than it actually was?

Maybe Ms. Spellings and her colleagues would do well to ask the truly relevant question: Where was the outrage, inside and outside the Beltway, and especially in the offices of the Education Department and the White House, when The New York Times broke the story of Mr. Paige’s bogus Houston accomplishments? Uncounted students didn’t seem to trouble the Education Department, or anyone else, then.

Ms. Spellings is quoted in your article as telling the education folks in Philadelphia last month that the time has arrived to “confront some of the sacred cows in education.” I, for one, hope she starts by rounding up a few of the stray dogies entrenched in her own department.

Nicholas S. Thacher
Dedham Country Day School
Dedham, Mass.

Vol. 25, Issue 37, Pages 32, 34

Published in Print: May 17, 2006, as Federal Official’s Memory Is Selective on ‘Outrages’

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